MAFA passes resolution of support for university divestment from fossil fuels

Sackville, NB – At its recent Fall General Meeting members of the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA) voted unanimously in favour of a motion in support of DivestMTA, a group of Mount Allison students pressuring the Mount Allison Board of Regents to divest from its investments in fossil fuel companies.

“Fossil fuel industries including oil are industries of the past. The urgency of dealing with global warming means these are no longer good long-term investments. It is time to shift our investments to renewable energy companies, the industries of the future” says Geography and Environment Professor Brad Walters, who was the mover of the motion.

The Mount Allison University endowment is worth $140 million and the university investment policy does not currently screen investments for environmental sustainability.

As part of the same motion, the MAFA membership also voted to direct its representatives on the university Pension Advisory Committee to investigate the possibility of providing pension plan members with ethical investment choices, including an investment fund focusing on renewable energy.

The Mount Allison faculty pension fund is a defined-contribution plan to which members and the employer each make fixed contributions and, like in a Retirement Savings Plan, the individual member gets to make investment decisions from a limited number of fund options.

“Environmental responsibility begins at home. We should have the choice to invest in sunrise, renewable-energy companies,” Walters says.

The pension fund has around $50 million under management. “These are significant resources and it seems reasonable that we should have the opportunity to make decisions as to what companies we invest in,” says MAFA Vice-President David Thomas, also a Politics and International Relations professor who has taught in the area of socially responsible investing. He said that many faculty members are concerned about their impact in the world and not just the rate of return in the pension plan.

MAFA represents 195 full-time and part-time faculty and librarians.

The full motion reads as follows: “That MAFA support DivestMTA in their effort to encourage fossil fuel divestment in the Mount Allison endowment, and further that MAFA call on its representatives on the Pension Advisory Committee to explore similar measures with respect to the faculty and librarian pension funds.”

For more information, contact David Thomas at (506) 364-2289, or mafa@mta.ca