Fossil Free Northwestern publishes petition calling for fossil fuel divestment

Yunkyo Kim, Reporter

Fossil Free Northwestern, a coalition of students, faculty, alumni and community members for environmentally-friendly endowments, has published a petition calling on Northwestern to stop investing in fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy.

The petition requests that the University effectively halt all future investments in companies that engage in fossil fuel extraction and sales as well as phase out all existing investments in such companies within the next five years. Instead of fossil fuels, the petition states, the University should plan to invest in renewable energy instead.

“By investing in fossil fuels, Northwestern is thus investing in environmental injustice, racial injustice, economic injustice, and in an industry which directly poses a threat to the fundamental and unequivocally universal right to life, food, health, education, and to an adequate standard of living,” the Fossil Free Northwestern petition states.

In addition to divesting from fossil fuels overall, the petition calls on the University to stop investing in any of the top 100 public coal, oil and gas companies ranked by the Carbon Underground 200, an annual publication which lists companies by their estimated carbon emission production. The list includes corporations like Mitsubishi, ExxonMobil and BP.

The Board of Directors should also respond to Fossil Free Northwestern’s proposal of the same objective, the petition states. The proposal, written by students in Fossil Free Northwestern and co-sponsored by hundreds of NU students, lays out strategic plans, benefits and case studies of fossil-free divestments from peer institutions like Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University and the University of California system.

The proposal, originally published this January, has been approved by the Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility, a 10-member coalition of students, faculty, alumni and staff for ethical university investments, in May. It also garnered support from student organizations. In March, the Associated Student Government passed a resolution in favor of the proposal and over a hundred students gathered at the open ACIR meeting on Nov. 8.

“When coupled with strategic and sustainable reinvestment, divestment can help both bolster the clean energy industry as well as fulfill Northwestern’s strategic mission of contributing to sustainable solutions, a proactive as opposed to solely extractive action to take in response to the largest threat to the environment and human rights of the 21st century,” the proposal states.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that ACIR had published the petition. Fossil Free Northwestern published the petition, but had received review and approval from ACIR. The Daily regrets the error.

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