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Students from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have recently set up a new fossil fuel divestment group, demanding the university to make public its dirty energy investments and providing a platform for the university community to voice concerns over environmental and social injustice.
The campaign group seeks to pressure NTU, currently the city-state’s second biggest university, to divest from fossil fuel firms as a part of much-needed institutional action on the climate crisis. Called NTU Divest, the students are demanding the university to disclose their dirty energy investments and to reinvest these funds in sustainable technologies.
It follows similar campaign moves from students at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Yale-NUS in the previous years.
Speaking to Eco-Business, the group of students at NTU said: “The fossil fuel industry is not compatible with a climate-safe future. Collective individual action alone is not sufficient – systems and institutions must respond to the climate crisis with the urgency and magnitude that it warrants.”
The founding members of the initiative are from a wide range of departments, showcasing the consensus among young generations about the need to urgently address the climate crisis. Group members include ecology major Kathleen Ooi, English literature and art history student Cherrell Ng, recent ecology graduate Chua Kai-ting, materials science and engineering student Tan Shi-zhou and public policy and global affairs major Shawn Ang.
NTU’s management has responded in a statement that the university adopts an “ESG-aware” investment approach that is “more holistic than just focusing on fossil fuel divestment”, and that they will merely be taking such considerations into account, offering little hope that comprehensive action will be taken.
Students have stated that given that NTU’s endowment fund is worth SGD 1.9 billion (US$1.36 billion), even a tiny fraction of the money would translate into sizable investments into firms that represent some of the world’s most polluting industries today.
“Investments are not only financial decisions – they are also moral and ethical positions,” said the group. “They endorse and fund an industry’s activities, signalling that they are acceptable and should continue.”
“Just as NTU would not associate with the tobacco, arms, and vice industries, NTU must terminate its continued association and financial support for the fossil fuel industry,” they added.
Earlier this month, NTU Divest was among the non-governmental groups demanding that more diverse voices and green businesses should be represented in Singapore’s newly established coronavirus economic recovery taskforce.
Lead image courtesy of Exxon Mobil.