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 (381)

  • University of Oregon: 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. 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 eighty percent 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 Oregon 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 Oregon 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 Ben Wright
  • University of Utah: 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 Utah 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 Utah 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 Matthew Kirkegaard
  • Pacific 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 Pacific 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 Pacific 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.
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    Created by Deke Gundersen Picture
  • Simon Fraser 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 the US and Canada experienced record-breaking heat, droughts, and storms, which impacted hundreds of thousands of people and cost hundreds of billions of dollars. And the OECD warns that Metro Vancouver is the Canadian city most at risk from sea-level rise and other climate change-related threats. 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 Simon Fraser 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. Divestment will be a sound decision for our institution’s financial portfolio, will demonstrate SFU's commitment to lead and engage the world, and will revoke the fossil fuel industry's social license to operate.
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    Created by Josh Cairns
  • Lewis & Clark College: Go Fossil Free!
    Climate scientists agree that the record breaking weather events are being caused by increases in global temperatures (2). These temperature increases have largely been the result of carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. 60-80% of the existing coal, oil, and gas reserves should be left unburned (3) in order to limit global warming to less than 2°C, as signed in the Paris Climate Agreement (4). Anything above this threshold drastically increases the risks of more climate disasters. We therefore call on Lewis & Clark College to immediately freeze any new investments in the most carbon intensive fossil fuel industries, especially those on the Carbon Underground 200’s list (5) of biggest oil and gas companies, and to divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include public equities and corporate bonds in these industries. With increased transparency and in collaboration with students, Lewis & Clark College should revise the Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) investment policy in order to meet these divestment goals. We believe such action on behalf of Lewis & Clark College will not only be a moral decision for the well-being of the planet, but also a sound decision for our institution's financial portfolio. The recent fluctuations in fossil fuel prices make these investments unreliable. The stocks themselves are also being overvalued; the fossil fuel industry is considering their aforementioned unburnable fossil fuels as assets, when in fact they are “stranded assets” under the goals of the Paris Agreement. Divestment from fossil fuels will have adverse financial effects on the industry and will encourage a larger cultural shift in which these investments themselves carry a powerful stigma. As more and more people continue to view coal, oil and gas negatively, through movements like divestment, this will pressure these fossil fuel companies to transition to clean energy. As of December 2016, 688 institutions worldwide have divested over five trillion dollars from fossil fuels (6). Lewis & Clark College, a pioneer of sustainability, should participate in this significant global movement. (1) https://www.lclark.edu/live/files/22998-list-of-managers-may-31-2016pdf (2) http://www.livescience.com/10325-living-warmer-2-degrees-change-earth.html (3) https://phys.org/news/2013-04-unburnable-fossil-fuels-investors-stranded.html (4) http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php (5) http://fossilfreeindexes.com/research/the-carbon-underground/ (6) https://www.arabellaadvisors.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/ Global_Divestment_Report_2016.pdf
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    Created by Bruce Podobnik
  • Skidmore 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 Skidmore 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 Skidmore 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. This is your chance to make Skidmore a national leader in sustainability and civic engagement.
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    Created by Jake Mendell
  • McMaster 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 McMaster 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 McMaster 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.
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    Created by Amandeep Bolina Picture
  • UCT to divest from fossil fuels and invest in sustainable energy
    Almost every government in the world has agreed that any warming above a 2 °C rise would be unsafe, and many[1] believe that target should no more than 1.5 °C degrees. Humanity has raised the global temperature by 0.8 °C, and that has caused far more damage than most scientists expected. More than a third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 per cent more acidic, and the climate dice are loaded for both increasing floods and droughts. This damage to a human-friendly climate threatens the most fundamental human right – the right to life – and the environment and economies that support human life. Scientists estimate that humanity can add roughly 565 more gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and still have an 80% hope of keeping average global warming below two degrees.[2] Computer models calculate that even if we stopped increasing CO2 and other greenhouse gas levels now, the temperature would still rise another 0.8 °C above the 0.8 °C we have already warmed, which means that we’re already three-quarters of the way to the 2 °C target. The proven coal, oil, and gas reserves of fossil-fuel companies, corporate and state-owned, which they currently plan to extract, equal about 2,795 gigatonnes of CO2, or five times the amount we can release without passing 2 °C of warming. Given this mounting crisis, there have been numerous authoritative calls[3] for a global target of phasing out all use of fossil fuels, or achieving carbon neutrality (net zero emissions), by 2050. Africa is a continent particularly vulnerable to climate change and it would be short-sighted to contribute to our own destruction – ‘extremely dangerous’ climate change[4] – in the name of short-term economic development. The principle of intergenerational equity is written into the South African Constitution, but contributing further to climate change would inevitably compromise the lives and livelihoods of current and future generations. The fossil fuel industry threatens human health (through climate change, air and water pollution), threatens democracy (through funding, disclosed and undisclosed, of political parties and politicians)[5] and threatens science (by funding climate science denial campaigns and using non-disclosure agreements to block research into the health impacts of fossil fuel extraction). Every societal institution that is aware of the climate change threat has a profound responsibility to take every possible action to avert it, especially to those that hold some responsibility for contributing to it through past and present emissions. It makes no sense to preserve the short- and medium-term value of current investments while contributing to long-term economic destruction. Divestment is wise (avoiding risk of stranded assets), ethical, feasible (many other institutions are doing it), effective and urgent.[6] UCT's own chancellor, Graça Machel, told the UN in September 2014, “There is a huge mismatch between the magnitude of the challenge and the response we heard here today. The scale is much more than we have achieved.” UCT has already made strong commitments to sustainability.[7] Honouring them demands consistent, decisive action to stop dangerous climate change. UCT aims to be a centre of excellence in climate change research, and risks undermining its academic integrity if it continues to invest in companies and practices at odds with the conclusions of its researchers. [*] References can be viewed at gofossilfreesouthafrica.wordpress.com/about. NB: Please sign this petition only if you are a member of the UCT community – faculty, staff, students and alumni.
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    Created by David Le Page
  • Gustavus Adolphus 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 Gustavus Adolphus 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 Gustavus Adolphus 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 Steve Palmer
  • Colorado 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 the Colorado 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 Colorado 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 Alex Suber