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 (380)

  • Macalester 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 Macalester 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 Macalester 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 Shaina Kasper
  • Divest UARK From Fossil Fuels
    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 Charles Muturi
  • University of Arizona: 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 the University of Arizona 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 the University of Arizona 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 Aaron Farber
  • University of Maine: 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 Maine 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 Maine 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 Sarah Wheatley
  • University of Virginia: 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 50 billion dollars 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 20% of global fossil-fuel reserves without passing the event horizon. Truth told, we will almost certainly pass the point of no return, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't work to avoid it. As public pressure to confront climate change builds, we call on University of Virginia 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 Virginia 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 Ari Daniels
  • University of Notre Dame: 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 Notre Dame 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 Notre Dame 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 Samuel Nichols
  • Hofstra 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 Hofstra 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 Hofstra University will not only be a sound decision for our institution’s financial portfolio, but also for the well-being 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 Ariel Flajnik
  • Northland 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 $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. As public pressure to confront climate change builds, we call on Northland 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 Northland 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 Travis Sherlin
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute: Go Fossil Free!
    We are calling on WPI to divest because burning fossil fuels causes global climate change, which threatens the livelihoods of current and future students and the well-being of millions of others, particularly in developing countries. We are witnessing the worsening impacts of a warming planet more each year; 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. 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 the remaining fossil-fuel reserves without dangerously warming the planet. According to our mission statement, WPI’s purpose is “to convey knowledge at the frontiers of academic inquiry for the betterment of society.” Although WPI has been a national leader in institutional sustainability, allowing its endowment to be invested in fossil fuels is incompatible with working towards a better society. We cannot conscionably work for a better tomorrow while investing in the companies that threaten the stability of the global climate. As public pressure to confront climate change builds, we call on Worcester Polytechnic Institute to 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 Worcester Polytechnic Institute will not only be a sound decision for our institution’s financial portfolio, but also for the well-being of its current and future graduating classes, who deserve the opportunity to graduate with a future not defined by global climate change. Please visit our website (divestwpi.wordpress.com) or contact sjsfexecs@wpi.edu to learn more about our divestment campaign at WPI, global climate change, and ways that you can get involved.
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    Created by Linnea Palmer Paton
  • Phillips Academy: Go Fossil Free!
    In the 1980s, students occupied campuses and took the fight against South African apartheid into their own hands, contributing to the liberation of 23 million people. Now, a new challenge has emerged in which students can play a critical role. Climate change, largely driven by the burning of fossil fuels, threatens the food we eat, the homes we build, and the future we hope for. This daunting problem is solvable, but only if we all come together against it. Unfortunately, fossil fuel companies are less interested in solutions and more in their pocketbooks. Through investing in such companies, Andover profits from the destruction of the planet. Not only morally wrong, this also goes against our school’s fundamental values. Thus, we call upon Phillips Academy to divest its endowment from fossil fuel companies. Some have tried to frame climate change as a scientific abstraction—a theory that needs more evidence or, even worse, the brainchild of rogue scientists. Yet, the scientific consensus on climate change is clear. According to a 2007 Report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal." It has been attributed to “human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases” that “come mainly from the burning of fossil fuels,” according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program. 97-98% of American climate scientists support these assertions and have called for action. In the U.S., the real effects of climate change are emerging. Consider Hurricane Sandy: More than 100 Americans dead, millions without power, over $60 billion in damage, the entire Northeast at a standstill. Or take the unrelenting American drought, which has cut into crop yields and foreshadowed a 21st century Dust Bowl. The science is clear that such events will only become more extreme and frequent on a warming planet. Around the world, climate change is even more unjust. In fact, African nations that emit the least carbon will be hit the hardest by its consequences. For small island nations such as Seychelles or Fiji, their very existence is threatened by the ocean’s rise. From Miami to Mumbai, the dangers of climate change loom larger by the day. Fortunately, there are steps toward a solution. For example, stricter regulations on mining and drilling would keep more carbon underground while protecting public health. A price on carbon would promote green innovations and sustainable living. A recent Yale survey found that 88% of Americans want government action on climate change. In the face of popular will and a moral imperative, one group has stood in the way: the fossil fuel industry. As the only industry that dumps its waste for free, fossil fuel companies run up huge profits at the expense of our future. To protect their business model, they spread doubt of established science by funding misleading ads and widely-discredited climate skeptics. As one of Washington’s biggest lobby groups, they spend millions securing themselves tax breaks and subsidies, crushing renewable energy with an unfair and unnecessary advantage. Thanks to Big Oil’s money, many politicians of a certain political party drag their heels on climate change’s urgency and even reject the hard science behind it. In the face of this political stranglehold, there is one thing concerned institutions like Andover can do: divest. That is, to stop investing their endowments in these companies. Environmentalist Bill McKibben and 350.org have turned this call to action into a vibrant national movement of over 200 college campuses. Unity and Hampshire Colleges have already made the decision to divest, along with the city of Seattle. Other college groups continue to make progress in what will be a long but crucial fight. Now is our chance to join it. For Andover, this would not be unprecedented. In 1987, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to divest from companies operating in apartheid South Africa. In 2008, the Academy divested from companies funding the Sudanese government because of atrocities in Darfur. The Trustees then adopted an ethical investment framework that calls for divestment from companies causing grave social injury. If climate change and its associated consequences do not meet this standard, then what does? As an institution known for "non sibi," Andover can send the message that fossil fuel companies must stop thinking purely of short term profit by endangering current and future life on Earth. Like the civil rights activists who made the country aware of segregation’s evils, we can bring fossil fuel companies’ grave social injury to the national consciousness. If a wave of institutions divest from fossil fuels, these companies will lose their social license and, consequently, their powerful grip on the political process. This opens the door for real government action to achieve climate justice. This past fall, we listened to Mr. Palfrey in his investiture speech ask
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