Michigan Students Urge Fossil Fuel Divestment at Universities

NWF’s Campus Ecology team provides resources and and support to students on more than 1,000 campuses each year, helping them move their campuses toward more renewable energy and sustainable practices. Currently, several students affiliated with the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition, a project of Campus Ecology, are calling on their administrations to take their money out of fossil fuel companies. These students are taking a stand on an issue they see to be holding back forward progress on climate policy and action: the fossil fuel companies that profit from producing fossil fuels, and use their boundless supplies of money to influence policies and politicians. Many students find that investing in fossil fuels contradicts with the mission or goals of their schools, including sustainability, as I recently wrote at the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition blog:

Despite the difficulty for students to access the endowment information, they now know that the university [of Michigan] has almost 1 billion dollars invested in fossil fuels out of its total 8 billion dollar endowment (one of the largest endowments in the country). This 1 billion dollars from UM accounts for 5% of the total amount of fossil fuel investments from US universities. Despite UM’s large amount of funding for faculty and research dedicated to sustainability and climate change, they still support the fossil fuel industry with this significant chunk of change from their endowment.

Michigan students are certainly not alone in this effort, there are already over 200 campuses involved, and many cities as well. This divestment movement also ties in with another, larger movement, something Bill McKibben would classify as the “Fossil Fuels Resistance”. McKibben recently wrote an article in rolling stone that goes over this movement and the many reasons why people all over the globe are finding the need to stand up to these companies that are intent on destroying our climate.

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Published: April 15, 2013