Dr Graciela Chichilnisky, the Nobel Prize winning economist who worked extensively on the Kyoto Protocol, has announced that she intends to spend tomorrow evening with the protesters at the pro-divestment occupation at the University of Edinburgh.
Speaking to The Student about the occupation at the Charles Stewart Building, the economist, whose work created a carbon market to reduce worldwide carbon emissions, gave her full support to the occupation, saying: “It is a peaceful occupation to a deliver a message. The message is, fossil fuels have formed an important role in economic development, but we must now move on to clean energy.”
Chichilnisky believes it is inevitable that the University will eventually have to commit to full divestment from fossil fuels. Asked about the likelihood that University will commit to full divestment, Chichilnisky said: “I think it can reverse its decision, and it will. The question is how soon.”
Chichilnisky also commented on how the University’s decision does not take into account global economic trends, which suggest that fossil companies are becoming less profitable. The world-renowned economist – who created the formal theory of Sustainable Development – believes that the University’s decision reflects an institutional conservatism in its investment decisions, and does not seem to have been provided with comprehensive information about the declining economic viability of investing in fossil fuels.
“The University does not seem to have information about the trends in prices [of the commodities] of fossil fuel companies.
“I can see that people are a bit conservative, but in reality it is the case that fossil companies are decreasing in economic value, and therefore it makes business sense to fully divest.
“The University has not taken into account information about the trend in prices about fossil fuel companies. If they follow the trends, they will see that it makes sense to divest fully.”
The University of Edinburgh yesterday announced, following the release of its Fossil Fuel Review Group Report, that it would only be divesting from companies which extracted coal and tar sands. Commenting on The University of Glasgow’s decision to fully divest from fossil fuels in October of last year – becoming the first European university to do so – Chichilnisky said: “I think they are moving into the 21st century, because that is a trend that is coming, and there is no way to avoid it.”
Chichilnisky said of people who were supportive of the University’s decision, that they are “slightly behind the times and they should move forward with the times, and not go back to the past.”