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.

College big x
Find your local campaign

Your Location

Campaigns (380)

  • Saint Michaels 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 Saint Michael's 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 Saint Michael's 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.
    726 of 800 Signatures
    Created by Meghan McNulty
  • 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.
    702 of 800 Signatures
    Created by David Le Page
  • SUNY College at Geneseo: 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 SUNY College at Geneseo 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 SUNY College at Geneseo 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.
    654 of 800 Signatures
    Created by James Kruegler
  • University of New Brunswick, Fredericton: Go Fossil Free!
    It is becoming more and more apparent that climate change is a reality to be taken seriously. Scientists, climate experts, and many progressive governments around the world agree that 350 parts per million is a safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Currently, the number sits at 392 (ppm). In order to decrease this number back to 350, and avoid a runaway climate catastrophe, 80% of fossil fuels that are currently in reserves owned by fossil fuel corporations must remain underground. The University of New Brunswick is “committ(ed) to understanding and solving the problems of today and tomorrow” as stated in the UNB mission statement. Many of these problems are tied to climate change, which we are facing today and will inevitably be faced with in the future. We call on the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton 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 will not only be a sound decision for our institution’s financial portfolio, but also truly illuminate UNB’s values for innovation, problem solving, and leadership.
    634 of 800 Signatures
    Created by Kayley Reed Picture
  • Divest Occidental College From Fossil Fuels
    We must divest if we are to regain our integrity as an institution. Occidental College prides itself on being a liberal arts institution that shapes citizens who will contribute to and better the world society. Therefore, it should not be harming our environment and society through financial support of the fossil fuel industry. Climate change is real. 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. If we do not fully commit ourselves to substantive action as individuals, as institutions, and as a society, climate change will accelerate and intensify on an unprecedented scale. Colleges and universities are unique in the abundant wealth they hold in social, intellectual, and financial capital. This makes these institutions better suited than any other entity to lead our society toward a more just and sustainable future. We have a duty to apply our intelligence and creativity to the enduring problems of our civilization, which include climate change. In its mission statement, Occidental College calls on its students to gain a "deeply rooted commitment to the public good." It would be hypocrisy for the college not to pursue the same goal. Despite using environmental sustainability to enhance its brand, Occidental College backs the destructive fossil fuel industry through its investments. This lack of integrity is unacceptable. If Occidental is to fulfill its mission and uphold its values as an institution, it must divest from fossil fuels. If our open-minded and reputable college cannot divest from the destructive fossil fuel industry, then who will? To regain its integrity, Occidental must divest. In doing so, we will set a moral standard that other institutions will be inspired to live up to.
    633 of 800 Signatures
    Created by Alex Lukas
  • Whitman 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 Whitman 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 Whitman College will not only be a sound decision for our institution’s long-term financial stability, 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. Additionally, divesting would reinforce and legitimize Whitman's environmental commitment while also reflecting our institution's progressive social stance.
    606 of 800 Signatures
    Created by Sierra Dickey
  • Carleton College: Go Fossil Free!
    Carleton College "is committed to being a good citizen of a more sustainable world," and a member of American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment. Carleton was the first higher education institution in the country to install a wind turbine in 2004, and built a second in 2011. Solar arrays adorn a residence hall. And yet despite commendable efforts such as these, climate change is accelerating. This fossil-fuel divestment opportunity provides one more opportunity for Carleton to take action against climate change. 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 Carleton 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 Carleton 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.
    581 of 600 Signatures
    Created by Brett Smith
  • Divest Pomona College 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.
    531 of 600 Signatures
    Created by Anna Leopold
  • University of Redlands: 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 Redlands 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 Redlands 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.
    524 of 600 Signatures
    Created by Scout Dahms-May Picture
  • Calvin 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 Calvin 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 Calvin 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. As Stewards of God’s creation it’s paramount that we lead the way in taking action against this irreconcilable damage that is threatening our planet. Calvin has in the past invested in funds of funds and been separated by two layers of management from the stocks we buy. Our current budget shortfall has brought into focus our investment procedures and it is important for us to take this opportunity to hold ourselves responsible to God’s green earth. We should make sure that we are not just looking to fill this budget deficit in the most efficient way financially but in a way that holds us to our responsibility as stewards of God’s world.
    521 of 600 Signatures
    Created by Ian Noyes Picture