To: President Adam Weinberg and the Board of Trustees
Denison University: Go Fossil Free!
We urge Denison University to take direct action against global climate change in the following ways:
1) Immediately freeze any new investments in fossil-fuel companies
2) Divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds in fossil fuel companies
3) Reinvest in companies that develop green energy technologies as their primary business.
4) Invest in on-campus projects that improve Denison's sustainability.
Why is this important?
There is a group of students, faculty, alumni and other affiliates of Denison University who are urging the institution to divest assets and endowment money out of socially and environmentally irresponsible companies, specifically the top 200 fossil fuel companies that hold the most carbon reserves. Holding money in these types of investments not only perpetuates support for an industry that profits from the destruction of the natural environment, but also adversely represents the values and mission of Denison University. As an institution of higher education that fosters "a commitment to treat each other and the environment with mutual respect, tolerance, and civility", Denison has an ethical duty to address such a global issue as climate change, which is not only a scientific and environmental threat but also an issue of equity and human rights.
The effects of climate change are varied and numerous, including extreme weather, melting sea ice, global ocean acidity, flooding, drought, reduced agricultural output, and increased levels of illness and disease. In this last year alone the United States experienced record-breaking heat, droughts, and hurricanes, which impact hundreds of thousands of people and cost our country hundreds of billions of dollars. Hurricane Sandy alone caused $50bn in damages. The scientific consensus is overwhelmingly clear; we cannot burn even half of known global fossil fuel reserves without dangerously warming the planet and amplifying human and environmental suffering.
***We are immensely proud of Denison's dedication to solar power, and efficiency retrofits as well as a dedicated interest in systems of sustainable agriculture, but feel strongly that as long as we continue to support the fossil fuel industry in such a direct manner these actions lose their weight and the college will lose credibility as a progressive and forward-thinking institution that actively demonstrates the ethics and values that it teaches.***
We call on Denison University to immediately freeze any and all new investments in fossil-fuel companies, and to divest within five years from any funds held in the Top 200 Publicly Traded Companies with the largest estimated coal, oil and gas reserves, as reported by the Carbon Tracker Initiative. We believe such action on behalf of Denison 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.