University Graduation interrupted with a call for fossil fuel divestment


Blaze Forbes interrupts UoA graduation ceremony 2016

Recent University of Auckland graduate Blaze Forbes interrupts his graduation ceremony with a call for alumni to support the University divesting from fossil fuels.

A University of Auckland graduate has called out his alma mater for not divesting from fossil fuels while crossing the stage to receive his degree yesterday afternoon.

Blaze Forbes, who was receiving a degree in Health Sciences, held up a banner saying ‘Alumni for Divestment’ in front of the audience and the University Chancellor while he crossed the stage at the graduation ceremony.

The protest was part of an ongoing student campaign calling on the University of Auckland to dis-invest its $80 million endowment fund from fossil fuel companies that are the main contributors to climate change.

Mr Forbes said that “I’m ashamed that the University of Auckland, my alma mater, is funding climate change and wrecking the future that its graduates have to live with.”

“If it claims to be a world-class University, it should follow the lead of Universities like Yale, Stanford, and Glasgow University by divesting from fossil fuels now.”

Last year, University of Auckland students delivered a petition signed by 2800 staff, students and alumni to the University Council asking for them to support a divestment decision, but this was rejected.

Around the world, more than fifty Universities have joined hundreds of other institutions with assets worth $3.4 trillion and divested from oil, gas and coal companies because of moral concerns about contributing to climate change and for financial prudence.

Said Forbes: “if the University of Auckland takes the science of climate change seriously, and honours its role as a critic and conscience of society, then it should put its money where its mouth is and divest.”

The student group Fossil Free UoA said it will continue to escalate its actions over the next few months to make the University Council consider its requests seriously.