On Thursday evening an open meeting was held by the Fossil Free Trinity College Dublin campaign on-campus. The event consisted of an introduction to, and explanation of, the global movement; several mini workshop groups on topics such as media, outreach, events, and sabbatical elections; and stories of success and failure from international students. According to the Facebook event page, it was an evening to provide any attendees with the opportunity to “get involved or support from the sidelines”.
The meeting began with a welcome from campaigners Áine O’Gorman, and Frans Jansson, who are BESS and PPES students respectively. The welcome was accompanied by a short clip from the film “Do the Math”. The film was produced by 350, a “ global grassroots climate movement”, and stars Bill McKibben, environmentalist and author, and co-founder of the movement.
The film centred around three figures – the 2 degrees Celsius that most global political leaders agree is safe to let the planet warm, the 565 gt (gigatons) of carbon that scientists believe we can burn and have a reasonable chance of staying below that threshold, and the 2,795 gt of carbon that fossil fuel industries have in reserve at present. It was revealed that Trinity has 6.1 million invested in fossil fuel stocks after a Freedom of Information request filed by past pupil Brian Marron last year.
Student Emily Dalgo of the University of America (UA), Washington, then shared the story of her university’s divestment campaign. She showed a clip made by UA’s movement on divestment, and related that their campaign had been ongoing for more than two years without divestment- despite “Sit ins, walk outs, and banner drops”, and more than 200 students in attendance at their regular meetings. After the event Dalgo informed me that UA has always been a conservative university, citing that it would never have divested from apartheid South Africa, as Trinity did.
The meeting then split up to workshop ways to progress Fossil Free TCD in terms of media, events, outreach, and sabbatical elections, with a particular focus on “Divestment Week”, starting February 8. As the workshop groups shared their findings, emphasis was also put on ensuring continued Students’ Union support.
The SU have a two year mandate to pursue the project. It was agreed that SU president Lynn Ruane had been “really supportive” of the campaign, but fears were expressed about the Finance Committee “postponing discussion” in the hope a more “passive leader” being elected as President for next year.
It was highlighted that the Fossil Free movement is a “step towards an ethical investment policy”, arms and tobacco stocks inclusive. As the event ended, Clodagh Schofield, another exchange student, this time from the partially-divested University of Sydney, expressed enthusiasm for the Fossil Free TCD movement.
Schofield stated that Fossil Free TCD is much more organised than their campaign was at a comparable time, and that it appeared to have momentum.