At Cornell and Tufts, Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign Gains Ground

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At Cornell and Tufts, Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign Gains Ground

Bill McKibben: 'It’s been kind of amazing to watch' the fossil fuel divestment campaign grow at campuses across the nation

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

(Photo: Tufts Divest for Our Future)

The calls for fossil fuel divestment at universities are growing louder, with the most recent calls coming from Tufts and Cornell students urging their universities to take climate action and divest their endowments from the polluting industries.

On Sunday, the Tufts Community Union Senate, which represents undergraduate students to the administration, overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling upon the university to divest its endowment from fossil fuels.

The resolution (.pdf), which passed by a 24 - 1 vote, cites Tufts’ vision statement that reads “as an institution, we are committed to improving the human condition,” and

calls upon the Board of Trustees to immediately stop any new investment in fossil fuel companies; and to ensure that within five years none of its directly held or commingled assets include holdings of either public equities or corporate bonds in fossil fuel companies as determined by the Carbon Tracker list;

In a similar move, on Thursday, Cornell's Student Assembly voted 22 - 2 to for a resolution calling for its university's endowment to divest from fossil fuels.

Cornell's resolution calls for full divestment of the university's endowment from the fossil fuel industry by 2020, and also calls for 30% of the divested funds to be reinvested in sustainable options by 2030, KyotoNOW!, Cornell’s student climate justice organization, reports.

“When we say ‘carbon neutral’, we should mean it,” The Cornell Daily Sun reports Anna-Lisa Castle, former KyotoNOW! co-president, as saying. “It doesn’t mean we should just start recycling on campus; we also want to see that we are not hypocritical by investing millions of dollars in the fossil fuel industry.”

In an op-ed urging the university to answer the call to divest from fossil fuels, Cornell senior Julia Fiore writes:

The climate will neither repair itself, nor will fossil fuels be replaced with sustainable energy, if we do not put pressure on dirty energy industries. Most scientists agree that we, as a planet, are approaching a tipping point in the climate battle; if a movement to divest were to exist, like it did for Apartheid thirty years ago, it should be now, not later.

Noting that the divestment movement has already seen successes at Unity and Hampshire Colleges, and that the divestment movement continues at hundreds of colleges across the nation, Bill McKibben, founder, told Democracy Now! last week:

Well, talking about this burgeoning divestment movement. It’s been kind of amazing to watch in the last six weeks as the number of campuses has mushroomed to the point—at 234 campuses now. The Nation said last week that this may be the largest student movement in several decades. In one sense, it came very quickly out of nowhere. In another sense, you know, last year was the hottest year we’ve ever seen in America. We watched the drought, we watched Sandy. I think it’s no surprise, really, that young people are starting to say, "We’ve got to spend another 60, 70 years on this planet. We better do something fast." And that something means standing up to the fossil fuel industry that’s been in the way of rational change for a quarter-century now.

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