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The student group Divest SU launched in 2012 following an on-campus lecture by environmentalist Bill McKibben. (Photo: Divest SU and ESF/Facebook)

In Another Divestment Victory, Syracuse University Goes Fossil Free

Announcement declares: 'Syracuse will not directly invest in publicly traded companies whose primary business is extraction of fossil fuels.'

Deirdre Fulton

Joining a rapidly expanding international network of institutions seeking to de-fund the industries driving global warming, Syracuse University on Tuesday announced it would divest its $1.8 billion endowment from coal mining and fossil fuel companies.

In a press release, the private research university based in central New York explained: "This commitment means that Syracuse will not directly invest in publicly traded companies whose primary business is extraction of fossil fuels. The university will also direct its external investment managers to take every step possible to prohibit investments in these public companies as well."

In addition, the university said it would "continue to seek additional investments through its endowment in companies that are developing new technology related to solar energy, biofuels, and advanced recycling."

Chancellor Kent Syverud added: "Syracuse has a long record of supporting responsible environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship, and we want to continue that record. Formalizing our commitment to not invest directly in fossil fuels is one more way we do that."

The announcement comes on the heels of a meeting in late February between university officials and Divest SU, a student group formed in 2012 after author and environmentalist Bill McKibben—whose organization, 350.org, is spearheading the global divestment push—gave a lecture on campus.

In response to Tuesday's news, the group posted on Facebook: "This is a big step forward, but we will not rest until SU does not have a single cent invested in these companies."

Earlier this year, the University of Maine became the first public land grant institution—and first university system—in the U.S. to divest its fossil fuel holdings. Students and faculty members at other institutions, including Harvard and Stanford universities, are also pushing for divestment.


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