Philosophy Professor Resigns Over University’s Investments in Fossil Fuels Companies

Gregory Mikkelson, a tenured associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and the School of Environment at McGill University, has resigned because of the university’s refusal to end its investments in fossil fuels companies.

Last September, Dr. Mikkelson, who works in philosophy of the environment and environmental ethics, had introduced a motion in the university senate asking McGill to divest from fossil fuels. “Because of the subject matter I research and teach, it became clear that this kind of action is imperative,” Mikkelson told the CBC. “Divestment works. It creates political pressure for governments to do the right thing.”

In December, the university announced it would not do so, making it the third time in 7 years the university has decided against divesting in fossil fuels. Dr. Mikkelson submitted his resignation a week later.

According to the CBC, “8.7 per cent of McGill’s current $1.7-billion investment pool is in the energy sector.” The Social Responsibility Committee of the university’s Board of Governors, tasked with considering the divestment proposal, said that “fully divesting from fossil fuels would pose a financial risk to the institution, and the university’s other investment options would be too limited. The committee also argued in its report that divestment is not the most effective way of making a positive impact on the environment.”

The CBC reports that Dr. Mikkelson aims to continue, in an unofficial capacity, to get McGill to stop investing in fossil fuels companies.

In an interview here, Dr. Mikkelson says he will be looking to work for an “institution that is more democratic and more sincerely committed to saving the planet.”

(via Aline Ramos)

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