With the fossil fuel divestment movement, students around the country are coming together to fight for climate justice by demanding that our universities divest their endowments from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in environmentally and socially responsible funds. SJSF is working closely with 350.org‘s international Go Fossil Free initiative, which has spread to more than 300 campuses internationally and continues to grow. Under this campaign, we are specifically asking that our universities remove all investment holdings from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies with a five-year time frame.
WHY WE MUST DIVEST
Our communities, environment and future are threatened by rising global temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Therefore, we believe our universities should not be invested in corporations that are involved with the extraction, production, or distribution of coal, oil, and gas.
The mission of higher education is to provide individuals with the tools, resources, and knowledge to have an influence on the world around them. Our schools say they are investing in our future – yet at the same time, they are supporting corporations whose very business models threaten the stability of that future.
Fossil fuel companies pollute without paying for the damage that they inflict on society. World food prices increased 10% this summer because of drought in the US. Hurricane Isaac screamed through the Gulf Coast, leaving wreckage in its path. Four-fifths of the Arctic ice sheet has already melted. Glaciers from Montana to Peru to the Himalayas are rapidly disappearing. Global warming is here. And we must rise to fight for the future that we deserve.
DIVESTMENT AS A TACTIC
Pressuring universities to divest their endowments has been used by college students as an advocacy tool before, most notably in the case of South African apartheid, and has been proven to be an effective way to place pressure and influence on corporate power. We will be the first to admit that going after our universities’ endowments is an indirect route to our ultimate goal of binding, effective, and immediate political action to address climate change, we feel that considering the political inertia currently surrounding the climate issue, we as students first need to act where we have the most leverage – on our campuses. We believe divestment is a direct way to disengage from the fossil fuel industry and to publicly denounce and separate our institutions from the industry’s immoral and irresponsible business model.
And as the divestment movement has spread to more and more colleges – and even religious institutions, cities, and entire states – around the country and the world, we have garnered high-profile attention from media outlets including the New York Times, NPR, and this absolute gem from Fox News - and much more. By bringing the question of the ethics of investing in fossil fuels to a national level, we are sending a message to our nation’s leaders that our generation is taking climate change seriously and that we are using all the tools we have to address it.
Want to get involved? Check the list below and the list at www.gofossilfree.org to see if your school already has a campaign. Contact us for help getting in touch with students at the schools listed below or if you want help launching a divestment campaign at your school.