SFU350 calls on SFU to declare climate emergency

The student group wants divestment from fossil fuels

Unsplash/Chris Leboutillier

By: Karissa Ketter, News Writer

On August 11, climate action student group, SFU350, released a Climate Emergency Declaration Open Letter urging SFU to take action against the climate crisis on social media

They demand that SFU declare a climate emergency, take a stance against the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline, ensure students graduate with an understanding of the climate crisis, and decarbonize and divest from fossil fuels. 

Divesting from fossil fuels involves removing SFU’s monetary investments from endowments of fossil fuel extraction, processing, and transportation companies. The letter states, “Divestment has always been about revoking the social license the fossil fuel industry has to operate; it is a moral opposition to a particular sector.”

SFU350 plans on presenting to the Responsible Investment Committee on November 19, 2021 to discuss reinvestments. 

Their letter states that “a climate emergency must be accompanied by action that challenges the status quo and the colonial capitalist system.”

SFU350 is calling on SFU to fulfill their responsibility of educating students, creating and supporting climate justice, and establishing a student-led climate hub to “guide sustainability policy and action on campus and provide a space for advocacy and agency that empowers the student body.”

The Peak reached out to SFU350 for a statement, but did not receive a response by publication deadline. 

In a statement to The Peak, SFU vice-president research and international Dugan O’Neil said that SFU is aware of the Climate Emergency Declaration Open Letter. He noted there was a meeting on the week of August 26 with himself, vice-president finance and administration Martin Pochurko, and SFU350 team members to discuss their demands.

“SFU is strongly committed to sustainability and climate action in particular. We demonstrate that commitment through our operations, research, academics and community engagement; however, we can do more,” said O’Neil. “As we return to campus this fall, we will be announcing some new initiatives and projects that build on and strengthen our commitment to sustainability.”

SFU350 attributes the climate crisis to “the racist, ableist, colonial, and capitalist systems” Canada was built on. They are calling on SFU to take an “intersectional and anti-oppressive approach while challenging deeply-embedded colonial and capitalist systems in order to tackle climate change.”

In Spring 2020, SFU announced a 2025 Sustainability Plan that will guide their climate actions for the next five years. SFU said their plan is designed with a “justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion approach.” They outline target areas such as reducing emissions, shifting 50% of their remaining fossil fuel usage to renewable energy, reducing waste, restructuring their investment portfolio, and establishing curricular and co-curricular climate action opportunities for students. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released climate targets that need to be fulfilled in order to combat climate change. These include reducing 2010 emissions by 45% in 2030 and reducing all emissions to zero by 2050. They categorize emissions into three scopes. Scope one refers to direct greenhouse gas emissions, scope two involves indirect emissions via the production of electricity, heat, and steam, and scope three includes all other indirect emissions. 

SFU has announced that it will complete its first comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory to include scope three emissions. 

SFU350 is calling on SFU students, staff, and faculty to sign their Climate Emergency Declaration Open Letter.