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Tell Your Alma Mater, Fossil Fuel Divestment Just Went Mainstream

Robert Friedman

Posted April 30, 2014 in Curbing Pollution, Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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A version of this post is on WeArePowerShift.org

Right now, Harvard University students are braving some nasty weather and blockading Massachusetts Hall, where President Drew Faust’s office is located, to demand that the Harvard Corporation, the world’s largest educational endowment, divest from fossil fuels. You can show your support for their cause here

Capture.JPGPhoto courtesy: Divest Harvard

This is just one example of the escalation that is occurring around the world around fossil fuel divestment. This call for investor responsibility could not be any more timely. Despite widespread consensus that climate change is happening and being made worse by humans, fossil fuel companies continue to profit from recklessly emitting greenhouse gases. How to stop this industry run amok that puts our entire planet in jeopardy?

For the past few years, college and university students across the country have been at the vanguard of a powerful divestment movement to take away the fossil fuel industry's moral license. This grassroots movement has continued to build momentum and even escalate despite claims by many college and university presidents that fossil fuel divestment would be impossible.

As we all know, it’s not, and it’s about to get a lot easier, especially for many of these institutions that have said that fossil fuel divestment is not in their interest.

Just yesterday, we announced a historic partnership with two major financial institutions, BlackRock and FTSE Group, to create the first equity global index tool that will exclude companies linked to exploration, ownership or extraction of carbon-based fossil fuel reserves. This new investment tool will allow investors who claim to be socially conscious, including foundations, universities and certain pension groups, to align their investments with their missions.

So what does this mean for the divestment campaign being run at your alma mater? Previously, there was no mainstream investment index that was built for large-scale investments that was also low-cost, transparent and well-diversified. This tool is just that, and through partnerships with mainstream financial institutions, we’re sending a powerful message to Wall Street that there is market demand for a fossil free future.

So the ball is in your college or universities’ court. They now have a tool to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Will they choose to continue to invest in the fossil fuel company, or will they choose join the growing number of institutions that have committed to building a more just, more sustainable future? 

No more excuses. Let’s do this.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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