In the news: How a new generation of climate activists is reviving fossil fuel divestment and gaining victories

Original article can be found here.

By Nick Engelfried

Convinced there was lots of life left in the student divestment movement after all, Better Futures launched the Divest Ed project. Bolstered by additional staff and resources, Divest Ed expanded Better Futures’ divestment work to the national level, attempting to fill the void left by other organizations.

As it turned out, the timing could hardly have been better. That coming school year was an especially propitious time to be investing in student climate organizing.

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In the news: Students Push Universities to Stop Investing in Fossil Fuels

Original article can be found here or here.

By Michael Melia

“At the end of the day, our goal is environmental justice," he said. "Divestment is our tactic for getting there, but it's not going to work unless we have a broader movement around the country and around the world of students demanding that their institutions end their complicity in the climate crisis.”

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In the news: Catholic campuses rallying for 'fossil-free degrees'

Original article can be found here.

By Brian Rowe.

A week after Georgetown University announced plans to fully divest its endowment from fossil fuels, students on other Catholic campuses plan to highlight their example as part of a nationwide day of action against investing in the carbon-emitting energy sources.

On Thursday, students at 57 universities across the country will hold rallies and events to "make our degrees fossil-free" as part of Fossil Fuel Divestment Day. The mobilization is organized by Divest Ed, a branch of the Better Future Project that supports student-led fossil fuel divestment campaigns.

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In the news: On Fossil Fuel Divestment Day, Students Demand Universities Take Action

Original article can be found here.

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On February 13, college students across the globe are taking action, demanding their universities divest from fossil fuel corporations and reinvest in regenerative, community-controlled economies. With the support of Divest Ed, the national training and strategy hub for the movement, about 50 campaigns are participating. This makes Fossil Fuel Divestment Day (F2D2) an unprecedented moment for our movement.

Fossil fuel divestment is a crucial tactic in our fight for climate justice. Climate justice is centering justice in climate solutions. In short, it means that we must fundamentally shift the way we interact with each other and all living beings on the planet to avoid climate catastrophe.

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In the news: "Why university students are uniting for divestment this week"

OPINION
Students demanding Harvard University divest from fossil fuels block the entrance to University Hall in 2017.
Students demanding Harvard University divest from fossil fuels block the entrance to University Hall in 2017.KEITH BEDFORD/GLOBE STAFF/FILE

In just one decade, the demand for fossil fuel divestment, once perceived as a lonely clarion call, has become a common sense response to the climate crisis. Today, the movement of institutions divesting their assets from the fossil fuel industry includes over 1,000 organizations, representing nearly $14 trillion. The list includes cities, nations, religious organizations, and media companies, their motives ranging from moral imperative to financial pragmatism.

In January, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, announced its decision to drop coal investments in a trend that CNBC “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer said marked the “death knell phase” for fossil fuel companies. Rarely does such a broad and diverse range of voices stand aligned on what is the right solution.

Over 40 colleges in the United States have divested, including Middlebury, Doane University, Smith, and the entire University of California system in 2019 alone. Yet most universities, purportedly institutions of progress and leadership, are denying this movement. They continue to support the corporations principally responsible for the destruction of communities and ecosystems across the globe: fossil fuel companies, several of whom engaged in decades-long public misinformation campaigns and in the continual blocking of meaningful climate legislation.

Our universities are failing their roles as leaders in higher education, and their power and influence only make their negligence more stark. For the sake of our world, we cannot accept their actions.

This is why on Thursday, Feb. 13, students across Massachusetts and the country will take action of our own.

More than 50 campuses — including Harvard, Boston College, Boston University, Tufts, MIT, Brandeis, Clark, Worcester Polytechnic, Stanford, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania — will work with Divest Ed to participate in Fossil Fuel Divestment Day, standing in unity to call on our universities to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in the safety and well-being of our communities.

Our actions will have impacts far beyond campus. Last February, Boston City Councilors Lydia Edwards, Michelle Wu, and Matt O’Malley co-sponsored a hearing to encourage the city to divest its $5 billion retirement fund from fossil fuels, private prisons, predatory loans, and weapons corporations and, instead, reinvest into community assets like local businesses, green energy initiatives, and community land trusts. Their efforts were supported by a broad coalition of community organizers, finance professionals, students, and workers. Our universities have enormous influence on major institutional investors like city and state pension funds.

The consequences of these institutions’ failure to divest are severe and visible in Boston, with the fight to combat sea level rise, flooding, and extreme heat becoming more urgent. We have seen the dangerous consequences of fossil fuel use as gas explosions shook the Merrimack Valley. And now a natural gas compressor station is being constructed in Weymouth — in spite of reports citing a “decline in demand.”

We see in Boston what we have seen all over the world: Black, brown, indigenous, and poor communities face the gravest effects of climate change and our exploitative economy. As environmental justice organizations like Roxbury’s Alternatives for Community and Environment have long shown, historically redlined neighborhoods face significant health and economic consequences from their exposure to higher rates of fossil fuel pollution and extreme weather. Indigenous communities like the Wet’suwet’en in British Columbia, the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota, and the Ojibwe and Anishinaabeg in Minnesota continually face violations of their sovereignty with impositions of gas and oil pipelines by fossil fuel corporations.

As students and as young people, we cannot allow the universities we are part of to profit from this injustice. We believe in a world in which educational institutions should act not like fossil fuel corporations, perpetrating ecological destruction across the globe, but like people who are part of supportive, resilient communities.

If our universities do not divest, history will look back and know whom to blame: the industry executives who knowingly steamrolled the ecosystems that made our planet livable, the policymakers who betrayed their constituents by doing little or nothing to protect them, and the universities who stood by.

Kyle Rosenthal, a junior at Boston College, is a member of Climate Justice at Boston College and Laudato Si Generation and a coordinator of the Catholic Divestment Network. Eva Rosenfeld is a junior at Harvard College and an organizer with Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard. Bolaji Olagbegi is a senior at Boston University and president of DivestBU.


In the news: "Harvard Faculty Votes Overwhelmingly to Support Divestment"

Originally published at Fund Fire
February 5, 2020 by Aziza Kasumov

Harvard University’s faculty on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a motion advising the school to dump all its fossil fuel holdings, the latest in a string of divestment efforts targeting one of the country’s largest university endowments.

The faculty voted 179 to 20 in support of the motion, which advises university leadership to instruct the Harvard Management Corporation (HMC), the organization managing the school’s $41 billion endowment, to sell all its investments in the discovery and development of fossil fuels. The proposal also asks HMC to fire external asset managers unwilling to follow those instructions.

Excerpt:

Endowment divestment campaigns across the country have also surged in recent months, building on that momentum, says Alyssa Lee, director of Divest Ed, a support organization for campus activists. On Feb. 13, at least 50 colleges, including Harvard, will host fossil fuel divestment events.

“There’s absolutely an uptick in activism and campaigns,” says Lee, adding that campaigns are also spreading more toward the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions.


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Media Advisory: Students at over 50 campuses call for fossil fuel divestment and climate action

Divest_Ed_Final-01_-_blue_on_transparent.png

Media Advisory                       For more information, contact: 

February 4, 2020                      Alyssa Lee, 209-222-8872, alyssa@betterfutureproject.org

STUDENTS AT OVER 50 CAMPUSES CALL FOR FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT AND CLIMATE ACTION

WHAT: Fossil Fuel Divestment Day (aka “F2D2”), a national day of action with hundreds of students at over 50 colleges and universities participating. Students will hold rallies, sit-ins, and other events to call on their schools to divest their endowments from fossil fuel companies. 

WHO: Students as part of the fossil fuel divestment movement

WHERE: At least 50 college campuses in the U.S, Canada, Nigeria, and Kenya 

WHEN: Thursday, February 13, 2020 - actions happening throughout the day

WHY: Huge day of action to show the breadth and unity of the student fossil fuel divestment movement; highlight the culpability of fossil fuel companies in climate change and ecological destruction and that it’s immoral for academic institutions to invest in them. 

BACKGROUND: 

Fossil fuel divestment is the phasing out of investments in fossil fuel companies, namely, coal, oil and gas companies. The fossil fuel divestment movement began in 2010 and has now secured over 1,000 organizations (including cities, nations, religious organizations, foundations, and academic institutions) committed to divestment, representing nearly 14 trillion dollars. Institutions are choosing to divest for both moral and financial reasons. 

The student divestment movement in the US gained widespread media attention in 2019. Students mobilized thousands at the Climate Strikes, students disrupted the annual Harvard Yale football game, and Middlebury, Smith, and University of California all committed to fossil fuel divestment. And on February 6th, Georgetown University committed to full divestment from all fossil fuels, the 2nd largest full divestment commitment in the country. University of Pennsylvania also announced on January 29th that they would not directly invest in coal and tar sands.

Fossil fuel divestment brings both colleges and college students into the national conversation on climate change, and represents an important next step of activism for the youth Climate Strikes. 

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Divest Ed is the national training and strategy hub for student fossil fuel divestment campaigns. Divest Ed launched in 2018 and provides coaching, training, and national coordination to over 70 campaigns across the country. Divest Ed is a part of Better Future Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Cambridge, MA. Learn more at divested.org 


In the news: "Why It's So Hard to Make an Endowment More Socially Responsible"

Originally published at The New York Times
January 31, 2020 by Ron Lieber

nyt_20200131.pngStudents at the University of the South sought more transparency and sustainability. Were they too polite?

SEWANEE, Tenn. — In 2013, the Board of Regents at the University of the South endorsed a sustainability plan. The school pledged, among many other things, to disclose its endowment holdings and initiate a communitywide discussion about whether those investments matched its values and commitment to the environment.

That debate mostly didn’t happen, at least not to the students’ satisfaction.

So last year, a group of undergraduates began to press for change. They produced a detailed 20-page report and initiated student and faculty resolutions requesting that the school, which is commonly known as Sewanee, do what it had already said it wanted to do with its more than $400 million endowment.

What they told me about their experience should be a warning to any students or alumni who think that a wholesale shift in endowment investing strategy will be an easy thing to accomplish. Get ready for a slog — one that might include portfolio modeling assignments, distracted university leadership and maybe even some name-calling.

Excerpt:

But activism around socially responsible investing (and divesting) is not just a blue-state phenomenon. An organization called Divest Ed, which maps the movement, shows a double-digit number of colleges and universities where students have raised these issues in states that often (or almost always) vote Republican.


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In the news: "Climate activist at Yale feels support from far beyond"

Originally published at New Haven Register
January 27, 2020 by Ed Stannard
Nora Heaphy, right, stands outside U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s office preparing to send a letter to the congresswoman calling for support on a new environmental proposal.
Nora Heaphy, right, stands outside U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s office preparing to send a letter to the congresswoman calling for support on a new environmental proposal.

NEW HAVEN — Nora Heaphy has been speaking out about Yale University’s investments in fossil fuel companies since she arrived on campus.

In October 2017, her first semester, Heaphy co-wrote a column for the Yale Daily News titled “Yale’s Climate Hypocrisy,” contrasting the university’s invitation to environmentalist Bill McKibben to speak on campus and its divestment of $10 million in fossil fuel companies with its major investment in Exxon Mobil.

A New Haven native, she had joined the Sunrise Movement, a coalition of young people working to make climate change a national priority, the summer after she graduated from Engineering and Science University Magnet High School.

Heaphy, now a junior, has become a leading voice for the Yale Endowment Justice Coalition and Fossil Free Yale, helping to organize the sit-in at the Nov. 23 Yale-Harvard football game that held up the game for 40 minutes and resulted in 50 students, alumni and supporters being cited for disorderly conduct.

Excerpt:

According to the website Divest Ed, “the national training and strategy hub for student fossil fuel divestment campaigns,” students at 45 colleges and universities have committed to take action on Feb. 13, Fossil Fuel Divestment Day.


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In the news: "Divest BU holds town hall on fossil fuel investment policies"

Originally published at The Daily Free Press, Boston University's Independent Student Newspaper
December 9, 2019 by Ellie Yeo

bc_20191115.jpgDivest BU held a town hall in the College of Arts and Sciences Saturday to discuss the importance of divestment from fossil fuels and examine the ways BU students can change the university’s policies on fossil fuel investments.

Attendees of “Combatting the Climate Crisis: A Town Hall” heard from local organization leaders, students and BU professors on divestment at BU and climate advocacy in the greater-Boston area.

Excerpt:

[Gracie] Brett, who is also a member of Divest Ed, an organization that supports student-led divestment advocacy groups, said divestment is a critical step to building a future of ecological justice.


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