Youth are taking charge of the divestment movement.

Photo: Mary Lovell

Photo: Mary Lovell

When you go to the grocery store, you probably buy environmentally responsible products when you can. If you still live with your parents, maybe they're trying to teach you about buying environmentally friendly stuff, or maybe you're teaching them what you learned in class about environmental responsibility. By buying products that are healthier for the environment, you are sending a clear message to the market that there is a demand for that product. As sales drop on more toxic products, stores stop stocking them. A new movement is working on the same principles, but on a larger scale - they’re asking institutions to drop their fossil fuel investments.

The current growing divestment campaign around the world is about fossil fuels. If we stop buying and investing in fossil fuels and put our funds in the renewable energy sector instead, we send a clear message to the world that our planet’s future will be greener and cleaner.

Why divest?

The divestment movement is asking you to get your institutions to clean up their investment portfolios. Maybe you haven't thought about where your school, church, or bank puts its investments and pension funds, but they are likely in oil, gas or coal. These investments are a problem for a number of reasons - most of which point to climate change impacts on our communities. Residents of some island nations are worried that they will lose their home and be forced to leave their country due to environmental disasters. The United Nations has stated that we can expect 200 million climate refugees over the next few decades. We desperately need to switch off of oil and gas and invest in new energy technologies.

The divestment movement is one of the most inspiring youth-led environmental campaigns I’ve seen. Thousands of young people are demanding action on climate change within their churches, universities, and banks. During the first global Divestment Day of Action, over 450 actions took place around the world. From Harvard students doing a 24-hour sit-in to thousands of customers in the U.K. switching banks and protests in the streets of Nepal, youth are gaining ground with divestment campaigns. We need to continue to apply pressure on these institutions to show how our small changes can collectively make a big difference.

Want to take action?

If you are a university student, there is probably a divestment group at your school. If there isn't, start one! If you're a member of a church, organize with other members about starting a campaign! In the process, you'll meet like-minded people that care about the environment. You'll start meaningful conversations about the most pressing issue of our time: climate change. And, you'll sleep well at night knowing that you can impact your community and the planet.

Email with any divestment related questions or concerns, and they'll help you get started.

If you go to Simon Fraser University, or have friends and family in Vancouver - please sign this divestment petition.