After eight days, the hunger strike at McMaster University has ended. A group of students at McMaster had begun the strike to protest plans by the university to install supplementary gas power generation for use during peak electricity demand periods . The students were also calling on the institution to divest its investment portfolio of companies engaged in fossil fuels.
In a release, the group calling itself McMaster Divestment Project said it was calling off the strike due to “deteriorating effects on organs, muscle, cognitive abilities, and immune systems”
One student told CHCH News “the fact that a higher education university can’t come up with a better solution than fossil fuels, is a little bit embarrassing for the university if I’m honest.”
Reached by the Bay Observer when the hunger strikes was announced, the University issued a statement that read in part:
“The university remains committed to divesting its investments in fossil fuels. Fossil fuel companies now make up just 2.7 per cent of McMaster’s investment portfolio, down from 4.5 per cent in 2018. As well, 24 per cent of McMaster’s investments are in companies that offer clean technology, a number the university intends to raise markedly over the next several years.”
“When we hit the hottest days of summer and peak hydro demands the new peak shaver generators are the most efficient and sustainable way to provide electricity to keep campus running…We are committed to operating the peak shaver generators for a maximum 100 hours per year which will represent 1-2 per cent of total carbon emissions on campus. Other sustainability projects will offset these emissions.”
If the generators were not built, McMaster would still have to meet peak demand with gas-generated power from Ontario Power Generation, which also uses gas generation to meet peak demand.
Statistics released by The Independent Electrical System Operator show that the system derived 90 percent of its power from non fossil fuel sources-Nuclear, hydro and wind. 10 percent was generated by natural gas.
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