NFGL students participate in Global Divestment Day

February 13 and 14 this year marked the very first Global Divestment Day. As international climate negotiations reach deadlocks and governments fail to take bold action against the ever-looming climate crisis, the citizens of the world have decided to stand up and take the fight into their own hands - including NFGL students.

NFGL students participate in Global Divestment Day
Photo: Georgia Donati Clarke

People of different nationalities, races and religions united in February for throughout 450 events in 60 countries for a common cause: We all believe that it is wrong to continue destroying our climate, and it is wrong to profit from it.

“From the Pacific Islands to South Africa, from the United States to Germany, we stood up to demand that our governments, universities and financial and religious institutions stop investing in the rogue industries that are destroying our planet.”

Georgia Donati Clarke

So, what does it mean to divest? An investment entails using your money to purchase stocks, bonds or other investments that are profitable to generate additional income for yourself. Numerous institutions such as universities or retirement funds use this strategy for generating more income to help run their institutions. Divesting simply means the opposite; withdrawing your money from stocks or bonds from companies with agendas you do not wish to support. 

Collectively, the top 500 university endowments hold nearly $400 billion in fossil fuel investments such as coal, oil and gas. Divesting would make a huge difference to the fossil fuel industry and to protecting our climate.

The Fossil Free movement in Sweden involved events in Stockholm, Malmö, Lund, Gothenburg, Jönköping, and Borås amongst others. In Uppsala, a group of us braved the cold and came out onto the streets to draw awareness for the cause.

Photo: Georgia Donati Clarke

Armed with banners, postcards and steely determination, we came together to show our support for divestment and have a good time doing it. Creativity shone through, with people dressing up as carbon bubbles, solar panels and wind turbines.

Marching to the beat of our own balloon-drum, we sang and danced (mostly to keep warm) our way through the streets of Uppsala. The atmosphere was lively as we gave out postcards and spoke to curious on-lookers about the global Divestment Movement. Several people cheered us on as they saw us passing through, and it was comforting to know that there were others out there who were also concerned about climate change and supported the cause. Our march eventually led us to a spot where we would have the most amount of foot-traffic on a Friday evening: outside Systembolaget.

Photo: Georgia Donati Clarke

These acts of solidarity are slowly gaining momentum. In 2014, Jönköping University became the first Swedish university to take a stance on the issue, changing their investment policy to exclude direct investments towards fossil fuels. Chalmers University of Technology followed suit recently, paving the way forward by selling their assets in fossil fuels worth an estimated 5 million SEK.

Photo: Georgia Donati Clarke

Overall, the first Global Divestment Day was a huge success as major institutions in Norway, the U.S. and Australia are starting to reconsider what their investments are contributing towards. The pressure to divest from fossil fuels is on, and you can be a part of it here.

This piece was written by NFGL member Niak Sian Koh, MSc Sustainable Development, Uppsala University.

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