I can’t help but share my pride in my fellow faculty for taking a strong stance on climate change. Our university is a leader in climate change research and is now moving toward being a similar leader in climate change policy. Our faculty senate recently voted to call upon our Foundation (which manages our endowment) to
- immediately cease all new investment in any of the top 200 fossil fuel companies;
- use its expertise to ensure that within five years none of its assets include holdings in such companies; and
- release quarterly updates to the public detailing progress made toward complete divestment.
Of course this is still just the first step and we have to follow through with action from the Foundation. Although their bottom line is maximum earnings, they have a new process for hearing such requests — a hopeful sign in my mind.
Compare this to the recent decision by (my unfortunate alma mater) Brown’s president to defend their continued investment in the 15 largest coal companies, using (weak) arguments similar to those used to counter divestment from South Africa during the apartheid regime (“We all agree racism is horrible, but this isn’t the right way to oppose it!”). This seems to be the story for climate change. We all agree it is something to be avoided (or, sadly, simply ‘mitigated’), but we really aren’t doing anything about it. There’s a lot of talk and little action.
Thankfully, I can be proud of the Brown students who are not giving up.