Professor the Hon. Arthur K.C. Li, Council Chairman
Professor Peter Mathieson, Vice-Chancellor and President
A Call for the Divestment of All Funds from the Fossil Fuel Industry by All Universities in Hong Kong
First let me introduce myself. My name is LEE Wai-choi, Eddy. I am the co-founder and convenor of an organization called 350HK committed to the fighting of the climate crisis. I am writing to call for the divestment of all funds from the fossil fuel Industry by all universities in Hong Kong Universities are not just institutions of higher education. They embody the hope of our society. And yet catastrophic climate change resulting from global warming is fast destroying this hope for all societies on Earth. As global warming is caused by carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuel (coal, oil and gas), we at 350HK would like to sincerely suggest that The University of Hong Kong should divest all her funds from the fossil fuel industry.
The divestment timeframe could be from one year to as many as five years. The important thing is not to terminate all such investments immediately, but to send out a loud and clear message to the society at large that such investments amount to approving and encouraging the inflicting of pain and suffering to humankind as well as the non-human world via climate disasters. Divestment is about doing the right thing, and hence is largely a moral decision. It is well known that most universities of the world have a strict rule against investment in gambling and tobacco industry. It is high time fossil fuel be added to this list, as the damage they are bringing to our world is incomparably larger.
The Global Divestment Campaign was first launched by an organization called 350.org about five years ago. Realizing the severity and urgency of the climate crisis, many top universities have since responded to this call, including Stanford University and Syracuse University in the US, and Oxford University, SOAS London University and Glasgow University in the UK. Other institutions committed to divestment include faith-based organizations like the World Council of Churches and philanthropic organizations like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. A list of such organizations could be found from this website.
From a purely investment point of view, fossil fuel is deemed by many financial experts to be a “sunset industry”, and hence not a good investment choice. If the world is to stay within the safety limit of “2 degrees temperature rise” as agreed by the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, many assets of the industry will become “stranded assets”, with their value plummeting to near zero. Renewable energy like solar and wind with no carbon emission will be the future industry of choice.
The period from 5th to 13th May this year has been designated the Global Divestment Mobilization (GDM) week. While we understand the time is too short for any firm commitment to be made by your university before that time, we would appreciate it very much if you could advise us whether your university will put divestment on her agenda in the near future, and if yes, what tentative roadmap and timetable will be adopted. In case the answer to the above question is in the negative (i.e. no divestment would be contemplated in the near- and mid-term future), we would also appreciate it if you could explain to us what are the difficulties involved.
Please note that a letter similar to this one is being sent to all other eight universities in Hong Kong, and all replies will be made known to the public during the GDM week. A similarly worded letter has also been sent to the Student Unions of all universities. University students will be actively involved in this campaign, for clearly their future is at stake.
For your reference, further information on the dire situation we are in could be found in Wikipedia under the headings “Effects of Global Warming” , “Abrupt Climate Change”, “Arctic Methane Emissions”, “Ocean Acidification”, “Coral Bleaching” and “Holocene Extinction” etc.
We look forward to your positive reply. For any questions, please feel free to contact me.
With Best Regards,
Dr. Eddy Lee Wai-choi
Co-Founder and Convenor,
3rd April 2017
你好！我是李偉才，筆名李逆熵，是環保組織「350香港」的創辦人兼召集人。這個組織的宗旨，是透過公民行動以對抗全球暖化危機。這次至函，是懇切呼籲全港的大學生團結一致，督促母校盡快「去碳撤資」（divest from fossil fuel industries）。為此，這封信也同時寄給了本港其餘八間大學的學生會。
「撤資」的決定固然要由校方（校委會及管理層）作出，但大學的真正主體是學生，有了學生的推動，事情必然事半而功倍。我們在此懇切建議， 貴會成立一個「大學去碳撤資關注組」，並主動要求校方作出「撤資」的決定。有關的背景資料（包括其他大學的撤資狀況），可參閱《維基百科》中的 “fossil fuel divestment” 條目。
2017年 4月 5日