MacDivest rallies against new gas-powered generators at Cootes Drive
Student divestment group urges McMaster to halt the installation plans for four new natural gas-powered generators at Cootes Drive
MacDivest is a student-run advocacy group whose mission is to end McMaster University’s $40 million in fossil fuel investments. Some of MacDivest’s most notable advocacy work includes their “Canada Is On Fire” protest at Hamilton City Hall in Sept. 2021 and their school-wide walk-out and rally in March 2022.
On Dec. 1, the student divestment group conducted an on-campus Keep Cootes Green rally, protesting the installment of new natural gas-powered generators next to Cootes Drive. This installation is being carried out as a part of Ontario’s Industrial Conservation Initiative, which aims to reduce the university’s overall energy costs.
MacDivest called out this initiative as counterintuitive and rallied for an alternative, greener solution. Cordelia McConnell is a Network Weaver for MacDivest, whose role involves connecting with other organizations. While speaking with The Silhouette, McConnell shared the importance and urgency of MacDivest’s advocacy for climate action.
“It's really key that we take action against this kind of thing. The numbers [McMaster] is releasing on the gas generators say they're going to produce 415 tonnes of carbon emissions every 60 hours operating on Cootes Drive,” said McConnell.
In their Net Zero Carbon Roadmap, McMaster shared that the generators would be utilized to reduce demand on the provincial electrical grid, reduce the university’s electrical costs and ultimately improve energy security by lowering reliance on the grid.
McConnell shared that McMaster’s plans to move towards a net zero in climate disruption will not be effective in the current climate emergency and the damage already done can no longer be offset.
“There's not enough time for this planet if we're going to keep below the two-degree threshold to be continuing to invest in fossil fuels and these harmful methods of energy creation, just so [McMaster] can move towards being better. It's like we're taking three steps back so that we might take three steps forward. It makes no sense and it's just too late,” said McConnell.
Leading up to the Keep Cootes Green rally, MacDivest has shared informational posts on their Instagram and hosted an Art Build for protestors to prepare signage. MacDivest also shared a letter they recently sent to the McMaster Board of Governors regarding the natural gas-powered generators, urging them to pull away from the project and opt for a green solution.
In their letter, MacDivest explained that the deadline to combat climate change is fast approaching. They shared that the time to start implementing sustainable energy solutions is now, and it should begin with halting the construction of the generators.
“It's very ironic for a university that markets based on being a school that is so close to these natural spaces, where you can always go for a hike in Cootes whenever you want, and then simultaneously be destroying the very earth that they claim to be supporters of,” said McConnell.
MacDivest looks to continue to hold McMaster accountable and advocate for sustainable, climate conscious and energy efficient solution.