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 (585)

  • 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.
    404 of 500 Signatures
    Created by David Le Page
  • Rutgers University
    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. Just this past fall, Hurricane Sandy alone caused the state of New Jersey $36.9 billion in damages according to Governor Christie. Experts, including some of our very own faculty here at Rutgers, agree that global warming caused by 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 Rutgers 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 Rutgers 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. Fundamentally, Rutgers University's mission as a public institution entails a broad commitment to the people of the state of New Jersey. As the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy make clear, that mission is inconsistent with continuing to profit off an industry whose business model is driving the destabilization of our planet.
    400 of 500 Signatures
    Created by Shane Patel Picture
  • Franklin and Marshall 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 billon 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 Franklin & Marshall 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 Franklin & Marshall 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.
    383 of 400 Signatures
    Created by Spencer Johnson Picture
  • Divest Loyola From Fossil Fuels
    Climate change is accelerating, and we here on the Louisiana Gulf Coast are already feeling its impact. Louisiana coastal wetlands are eroding at the rate of one football field per hour as sea levels rise. Oil drilling in the gulf contributes to this land loss. The most recent National Climate Assessment report warns that Louisiana will see billions of dollars in increased disaster costs as early as 2030. This is the effect of a rise in global temperatures attributed to the burning of fossil fuels. According to the United Nations coalition of scientists, in order to prevent a global climatic catastrophe, no more than one-third of the earth’s carbon reserves owned by fossil fuel companies and governments can be extracted from the earth. Although aware of this fact, major fossil fuel companies continue to extract fossil fuels. These fossil fuel emissions disproportionately impact people of color, indigenous communities, and low-income neighborhoods. Through its investments in these companies, Loyola is supporting their efforts and injustice. Loyola students who pay tuition, as well as its donors are unwitting accomplices in perpetuating the social injustices that arise from climate change. Divesting is an ethical obligation for our community, and the future of our planet.
    370 of 400 Signatures
    Created by Pierce Nordone
  • University of Wisconsin - River Falls: 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 Wisconsin - River Falls 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 Wisconsin - River Falls 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.
    370 of 400 Signatures
    Created by Daniel Saunders
  • Emory 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 $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 Emory 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 Emory 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.
    358 of 400 Signatures
    Created by Megan Cream Picture
  • Southern Illinois University Carbondale: Go Fossil Free!
    As public pressure to confront climate change builds, we call on Southern Illinois University Carbondale 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 Southern Illinois University Carbondale 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.
    343 of 400 Signatures
    Created by Patricia Walker Picture
  • Haverford 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 Haverford 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 Haverford 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.
    342 of 400 Signatures
    Created by Laura Eckstein Picture
  • Phillips Exeter Academy: 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 Phillips Exeter Academy 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. The Academy, according to its Environmental Mission Statement, must foster a culture of environmental awareness, and educate the community about sound environmental practices. Such action would fill our environmental requirements and responsibilities. Divestment will not only be the right decision for our institution's financial portfolio, but also for the wellbeing of its graduating classes, who deserve the opportunity to graduate with a future not defined by climate chaos.
    331 of 400 Signatures
    Created by Justin Landowne Picture
  • University of Pennsylvania: 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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.
    326 of 400 Signatures
    Created by Brendan Sculley