Fossil Fuel Divestment: Colleges & Universities

Colleges and universities are leading the way. Students have always been key to movements of conscience, and this fight is no different.

Institutions of higher education are charged with preparing their students for lifetimes of work and service. But if those institutions are invested in fossil fuel companies, then students’ educations are being subsidized by investments that guarantee they won't have much of a planet on which to make use of their degrees.

Colleges and universities rush to launch greening initiatives, sustainability offices, and environmental curricula, but it makes no sense to green the campus and not the portfolio. Fossil fuel divestment is a reasonable next step -- and it’s the right thing to do.

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Campaigns (379)

  • EC Divest
    Eckerd College’s mission statement highlights the importance of “sustaining the natural environment” while also empowering students to “strengthen their sense of personal and social responsibility for ethical reasoning and action, constructive community engagement, and thoughtful leadership through meaningful participation in campus life and the wider community”. In these times one of the most significant ways we can do this is by divesting our school’s portfolio from the fossil fuel industry. The mission of the EC Divest group is for Eckerd College to become a frontrunner in the nationwide movement to divest from the fossil fuel industry. This movement calls for schools to immediately freeze new investments in fossil fuel companies and divest current endowment funds from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds over a five-year period. We have the opportunity to become the first college in the Southeast to fully commit to this cause, with another 300 student-led campaigns across the country that have already begun to pressure their schools. Divestment campaigns have made a big impact before, including in the fight against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s. In this widespread, campus-led movement, schools across America boycotted companies doing business in South Africa. The college divestment campaign played a crucial role as an agent of social change that eventually helped to dismantle South Africa’s apartheid system by increasing public awareness of the government’s injustices. Likewise, as the fossil fuel divestment movement spreads, it will loosen the grip this industry has on our government and financial markets. Like the successful student-led movements before us, our college could be a leader in a significant nationwide movement that eventually impacts the national narrative on social issues. Colleges similar in size to Eckerd have been successful, including Hampshire College in Massachusetts and Unity College in Maine. Furthermore, a report by the investment-management firm Aperio Group indicates that when fossil fuel companies were excluded from investment, the risk to the investment portfolio is only increased by 0.0101% . When considering not only the future of our school but also of our planet, this is statistically negligible. Eckerd College is not a school made up of followers of the status quo. Through our liberal arts education, we have learned to challenge such perceptions and look forward with goals that ultimately better our social climate. Currently, our great institution’s endowment serves to help support companies that inadvertently profit from the release of CO2 and its contribution to global warming; these are serious issues that directly threaten life as we know it. For the good of our campus and our nation, and to preserve the quality of life for this and future generations worldwide, we call upon Eckerd to join a growing movement of institutions around the country that are committed to addressing the anthropogenic issues of the global environment by moving our endowment beyond fossil fuels, focusing instead on investments that are more in line with Eckerd’s mission of “sustaining the natural environment.”
    89 of 100 Signatures
    Created by Josh Lewis
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Go Fossil Free!
    Climate change is accelerating. We are witnessing the increasing impacts of a warming planet more and more consistently; in this last year alone our country experienced record-breaking heat, droughts, and hurricanes, which impacted hundreds of thousands of people and cost our country hundreds of billions of dollars. Hurricane Sandy alone caused $50bn in damages. Experts agree that global warming caused by humans burning fossil fuels will continue to accelerate and intensify these tragic climate disasters. The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming; we cannot safely burn even half of global fossil-fuel reserves without dangerously warming the planet for several thousand years. As public pressure to confront climate change builds, we call on Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds. We believe such action on behalf of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will not only be a sound decision for our institution’s financial portfolio, but also for the wellbeing of its current and future graduating classes, who deserve the opportunity to graduate with a future not defined by climate chaos.
    88 of 100 Signatures
    Created by Claire Superak
  • Divest SLC
    Climate change is accelerating. We are witnessing the increasing impacts of a warming planet more and more consistently; in this last year alone our country experienced record-breaking heat, droughts, and hurricanes, which impacted hundreds of thousands of people and cost our country hundreds of billions of dollars. Hurricane Sandy alone caused $50 billion in damages. Experts agree that global warming caused by humans burning fossil fuels will continue to accelerate and intensify these tragic climate disasters. The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming; we cannot safely burn even half of global fossil-fuel reserves without dangerously warming the planet for several thousand years.
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    Created by Natasha Leonard
  • Harvard University: Go Fossil Free!
    As Harvard continues to establish itself as a leader in campus sustainability, it must be ready to engage in sustainable practices at all levels-especially with regards to its investment activities. The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly clear. In this last year alone our country experienced record-breaking heat, droughts, and hurricanes, which impacted thousands of people and cost our country billions of dollars. Hurricane Sandy alone is estimated to have caused $50bn in damages. Experts agree that global warming caused by humans burning fossil fuels will continue to accelerate and intensify these tragic climate disasters. The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming; we cannot safely burn even half of global fossil-fuel reserves without dangerously warming the planet for several thousand years. As public pressure to confront climate change builds, we call on Harvard to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds. We believe such action on behalf of Harvard will not only be a sound decision for our institution's financial portfolio, but also for the wellbeing of its current and future graduating classes, who deserve the opportunity to graduate with a future not defined by climate chaos. Check out our website: www.divestharvard.com
    87 of 100 Signatures
    Created by Oliver Kerr
  • Mount Holyoke College: Go Fossil Free!
    Climate change is accelerating. We are witnessing the increasing impacts of a warming planet more and more consistently; in this last year alone our country experienced record-breaking heat, droughts, and hurricanes, which impacted hundreds of thousands of people and cost our country hundreds of billions of dollars. Hurricane Sandy alone caused $50bn in damages. Experts agree that global warming caused by humans burning fossil fuels will continue to accelerate and intensify these tragic climate disasters. The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming; we cannot safely burn even half of global fossil-fuel reserves without dangerously warming the planet for several thousand years. As public pressure to confront climate change builds, we call on Mount Holyoke to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds. We believe such action on behalf of Mount Holyoke will not only be a sound decision for our institution's financial portfolio, but also for the wellbeing of its current and future graduating classes, who deserve the opportunity to graduate with a future not defined by climate chaos.
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    Created by Lauren Ressler
  • Babson College: Go Fossil Free!
    Climate change is accelerating. We are witnessing the increasing impacts of a warming planet more and more consistently; in this last year alone our country experienced record-breaking heat, droughts, and hurricanes, which impacted hundreds of thousands of people and cost our country hundreds of billions of dollars. Hurricane Sandy alone caused $50bn in damages. Experts agree that global warming caused by humans burning fossil fuels will continue to accelerate and intensify these tragic climate disasters. The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming; we cannot safely burn even half of global fossil-fuel reserves without dangerously warming the planet for several thousand years. As public pressure to confront climate change builds, we call on Babson College to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds. We believe such action on behalf of Babson College will not only be a sound decision for our institution’s financial portfolio, but also for the wellbeing of its current and future graduating classes, who deserve the opportunity to graduate with a future not defined by climate chaos.
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    Created by Xiaokang Chen
  • Willamette University: Go Fossil Free!
    "Not unto ourselves alone are we born." Our motto speaks of large responsibility for combating climate change and acting for the greater good . We are witnessing the increasing impacts of a warming planet more and more consistently; in this last year alone our country experienced record-breaking heat, droughts, and hurricanes, which impacted hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Many who have never had a carbon footprint & contributed to global warming are experiencing the worst effects. The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming; we cannot safely burn even half of global fossil-fuel reserves without dangerously warming the planet for several thousand years. As public and atmospheric pressure to confront climate change builds, we call on you and the board of trustees to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds. We believe this action will not only be a sound decision for our institution's financial portfolio, but also for the chance for all future graduating classes to have a foreseeable, stable future.
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    Created by Larissa DeHaas Picture
  • Middlebury College: Go Fossil Free!
    Divest Middlebury believes Middlebury College has the potential to be a leader in social responsibility and sustainability. Middlebury College’s mission statement identifies environmental stewardship and global engagement as critical priorities of the institution; we must align our investments with these values. In the context of global environmental degradation and exploitation of vulnerable communities by the fossil fuel industry, it is not enough to focus solely on sustainability on our campus in Vermont. The divestment movement has the potential to confront the power of the fossil fuel industry and bring about the kind of action necessary to end our reliance on fossil fuels. Fossil fuel divestment is financially achievable; academic institutions, cities, religious communities, and pension funds have already made the commitment to divest. Companies that engage in fossil fuel extraction have inherent risks, both financially and operationally, that threaten their performance now and in the long term. With opportunities to invest in high-performing, innovative, socially responsible, and environmentally conscious companies, the choice is clear. We must harness our position as a privileged private academic institution to confront the gravest planetary emergency of our time.
    82 of 100 Signatures
    Created by Taylor Cook
  • American University: Go Fossil Free!
    Climate change is accelerating. We are witnessing the increasing impacts of a warming planet more and more consistently; in this last year alone our country experienced record-breaking heat, droughts, and hurricanes, which impacted hundreds of thousands of people and cost our country hundreds of billions of dollars. Hurricane Sandy alone caused $50bn in damages. Experts agree that global warming caused by humans burning fossil fuels will continue to accelerate and intensify these tragic climate disasters. The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming; we cannot safely burn even half of global fossil-fuel reserves without dangerously warming the planet for several thousand years. As public pressure to confront climate change builds, we call on American University to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds. We believe such action on behalf of American University will not only be a sound decision for our institution's financial portfolio, but also for the wellbeing of its current and future graduating classes, who deserve the opportunity to graduate with a future not defined by climate chaos.
    82 of 100 Signatures
    Created by Alison Shapiro
  • University of California - Davis: Go Fossil Free!
    Climate change is accelerating. We are witnessing the increasing impacts of a warming planet more and more consistently; in this last year alone our country experienced record-breaking heat, droughts, and hurricanes, which impacted hundreds of thousands of people and cost our country hundreds of billions of dollars. Hurricane Sandy alone caused $50bn in damages. Experts agree that global warming caused by humans burning fossil fuels will continue to accelerate and intensify these tragic climate disasters. The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming; we cannot safely burn even half of global fossil-fuel reserves without dangerously warming the planet for several thousand years. As public pressure to confront climate change builds, we call on University of California - Davis to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, and to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil-fuel public equities and corporate bonds. We believe such action on behalf of University of California - Davis will not only be a sound decision for our institution's financial portfolio, but also for the wellbeing of its current and future graduating classes, who deserve the opportunity to graduate with a future not defined by climate chaos.
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    Created by Daniel Cox