A new not-for-profit group seeks to challenge the activist-driven push going on at some university campuses and at other organizations to divest from the Canadian energy sector.
The upstart InvestNow was launched in December by former Toronto Stock Exchange market intelligence head Gina Pappano, with a mandate to combat energy sector divestment and promote investment in it.
In an interview on The Andrew Lawton Show, Pappano said her organization hopes to raise awareness on why the activists seeking to keep capital away from the energy sector are off-base both economically and environmentally.
“We decided to launch InvestNow to challenge the divestment narrative – to say that divestment is wrong,” Pappano said. “It doesn’t achieve what it’s purported to achieve, which is it doesn’t reduce emissions, and Canada has some of the best energy companies in the world. It doesn’t reduce demand, so the supply will come from elsewhere.”
Pappano pointed to efforts by the US-based 350.org to lobby boards of governors of Canadian universities, urging them to divest their endowments from Canada’s energy sectors for ideological, not financial, reasons.
Last year, the University of Guelph announced that it would pull tens of millions of dollars in investments from the fossil fuel sector after extensive lobbying from activists.
“Last year, they voted for divestment and only three people voted against it on the board of governors. So we’re realizing that the other side is not being told,” said Pappano.
“We’re trying to write our own letters to the boards of governors and university presidents to say, ‘Consider this, especially for Canada.’ We don’t think people realize how important the Canadian energy sector is to the economy, to running universities, to running everything in our cities, and we want to get that message out there.”
According to Pappano, the groups pushing the divestment narrative are “very well funded,” whereas the pro-energy sector side of the debate has a lot of catching up to do.
The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan has been the recent target by environmental activists to divest from Canadian fossil fuels.
A coalition of groups, including Shift Action for Pension Wealth and Planet Health, Fridays for Future Toronto and a number of current and former Ontario teachers have so far led the charge.