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Cornell University’s Board of Trustees announced on Friday that the University will make no new investments in fossil fuels, and it is believed that they have been divesting of their previous investments for several years, though the details of their endowment are not public. This follows on the announcement last week that the University of California system had completed its divestment from fossil fuels, becoming the largest in the country do so. Cornell’s decision increases the pressure on Harvard and Yale, both of which have young alumni running for spots on their boards of trustees for the explicit purpose of forcing both the divest.
Why This Matters: The climate movement has been led by young people and one easy focus of their activism is the universities they attend. At universities like Georgetown and Cornell, well-organized student organizations, supported by faculty, had been demanding divestment for years. Cornell seems to have been off-loading its fossil fuel investments for several years, but only this week made the formal decision to forego future investments. The Trustees cited a “growing recognition” that fossil fuels are out of favor rather than student pressure. The students there are not satisfied and are demanding a total divestment from even index funds that hold fossil fuel stocks.
UC System Is Divested
It took five years for the University of California system to divest — it sold more than $1 billion in fossil fuel assets from its $126 billion in pension, endowment and working capital pools and invested $1 billion in clean energy projects, the University said in a statement. “Today’s announcements on our investment strategy underscore our hopeful view of the future,” Richard Sherman, chair of the UC Board of Regents’ investments committee, said in a statement. “As long-term investors, we believe the university and its stakeholders are much better served by investing in promising opportunities in the alternative energy field rather than gambling on oil and gas.”
The Ivy League
Yale Forward jumped on the Cornell announcement, noting a shifting tide in favor of energy investments that don’t endanger the futures of the students. “The world can see which way the wind is blowing, and it’s time for Yale to lead the way forward and become a leader in the fight against climate change,” said Yale Forward co-founder Scott Gigante in a statement. “Yale Forward’s platform, promoted by candidate Maggie Thomas, does just that by divesting from fossil fuels and making the Yale Corporation more representative and democratic.” Maggie Thomas is a former climate policy advisor to presidential candidates Governor Jay Inslee and Senator Elizabeth Warren is campaigning for the Yale Corporation Board, calling on the University to divest nearly $30 billion endowment from fossil fuels and moving Yale to a carbon-neutral campus as quickly as possible.
What You Can Do: If you are a Yale alum, sign the Yale Forward petition to put Maggie Thomas on the ballot for the Corporation Board to push for divestment.
After a four-year hiatus under the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Change Indicators website is back in action. The public portal includes data on 54 indicators including sea-level rise, Great Lakes ice cover, heat waves, river flooding, and residential energy use.
Why This Matters: People are experiencing the impacts of climate change in their everyday lives, from hotter temperatures to more intense wildfire seasons.
When reading about climate change, you’ll often come across the unit of measurement called a “metric ton of CO2.” That sounds like a lot, but the unit is a bit abstract for most of us when our reference point for a ton is a VW Beetle, the Liberty Bell, or even a baby humpback whale […]
According to a new report from Christian Aid, Kenya, which produces half of all black tea consumed by the UK, may lose a quarter of its growing capacity by 2050, and the tea that makes it into drinkers’ cups may taste a lot different than before. The decline of tea farming has implications for economies worldwide, including Kenya, India, China, and Sri Lanka.
Why This Matters: Tea is the most popular drink other than water globally and the tea industry employs more than 3 million people in Africa alone.
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