Target: University of Washington Board of Regents
Goal: Divest university funds from the fossil fuel industry
Climate change is upon us, and drafting new legislation will not create an immediate solution to the problem. To this end, a more fast-acting solution – pulling city and university funds invested in oil companies – is becoming popular. Seattle is leading the way in this arena, where mayor Mike McGinn declared that the city would divest its pension funds and move to clean energy options. But Seattle’s University of Washington has stocks in Exxon, Chevron and Conoco Phillips, among others. The school should make the right decision for the climate and divest the university endowment from fossil fuels to help combat climate change.
Divestment is a new strategy for influencing corporations. Simply put, it works by taking money away from them. After the Newtown massacre, some cities and unions around the U.S. moved to pull pension funds from stocks that invested in gun manufacturers. The threat of global warming is just as severe as gun violence in the U.S., so the same tactic applies in this case. The University of Washington (UW) has a solid reputation for environmental sustainability and stewardship, so if the Board of Regents decided to pull the plug on investments in the fossil fuel industry, it would be the next logical step for the university. According to Sarra Tekola, student organizer for the school’s“Divest UW” campaign, UW’s direct investment in fossil fuel companies is about $10 million of a total $2.2 billion endowment. Even though the divestment will not reduce profits for these companies, it will make a powerful statement to the public.
Divestment will not hurt university’s finances. As more cities and universities pull their funds from the fossil fuels industry and invest in clean energy, the value of the latter will increase. It is important to keep the investment portfolio diverse and profitable, but the bottom line is that we cannot wait for the planet to fix itself. As Sarra Tekola said, “Climate change isn’t something that only affects polar bears. It will submerge Harbor Island and the shores of West Seattle and South Park, and we are already seeing the impacts. Last year the Atlantic Ocean was in the subways of New York City, on top of it being one of the hottest years on records, there is no denying climate change is here. Continued support for the use and investment in fossil fuels in signing a blank check for the destruction of our home. There are many better alternatives, but first we have to take a stand. Supporting divestment is about protecting our future.” Join Sarra to urge University of Washington Board of Regents to divest its endowment from fossil fuels and take concrete action against climate change.
Dear Board of Regents members,
As the University of Washington’s governing body, you have the power to bring the issue of climate change front and center. Currently, the university’s direct investment in fossil fuel companies is about $10 million of a total $2.2 billion endowment, according to “Divest UW” campaign student organizer Sarra Tekola. As the leader for environmental sustainability and stewardship, University of Washington should take the next logical step and divest these funds, opting for renewable sources of energy to invest in.
Divestment is the right thing to do for the environment. Just in the past year, New York City subway was flooded and we have seen record temperatures across the country. Climate change will negatively impact Seattle. Sarra Tekola said, “It will submerge Harbor Island and the shores of West Seattle and South Park, and we are already seeing the impacts.”
Fossil fuels are one of the main contributors to climate change. Divestment will send a powerful message that will resonate with the whole country. University of Washington should be the agent of change and divest its endowment from fossil fuels.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: 350.org via Flickr