Understanding Institutional Responses to Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaigns at Canadian Universities
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Fossil fuel divestment has been a growing movement in the fight for climate justice, with college and university campuses as a key platform for the movement. While a great deal of literature has studied various aspects of fossil fuel divestment, none thus far has considered why certain institutions divest while others do not. Through a comparative case study of four Canadian universities, I found that their arguments fell into similar categories: ‘Social Injury’, ‘Supply and Demand’, ‘Engagement’, ‘Financial Risk’, ‘Sustainability Initiatives’ and ‘Risk of Losing Funding and/or Donations’. Investigative research and interviews at each university brought forward evidence of the types of influences on each institution by the fossil fuel industry. Fewer direct influences on the institution that has committed to divestment brought about an interesting comparison. The results from this research provide some evidence to suggest that the reasons institutions present for not divesting are not the whole story, and that donor and alumni influence deserves further attention.