You seem to have had an issue loading this page or you have javascript disabled, which may cause problems while using Change.org. To avoid any further inconvenience, please enable javascript in your browser and refresh this page.
University of Illinois: Divest from Coal
  • Petitioned University of Illinois Foundation

This petition was delivered to:

University of Illinois Foundation

University of Illinois: Divest from Coal

    1. Tyler Rotche
    2. Petition by

      Tyler Rotche

      Urbana, IL

UIUC Beyond Coal aims to bring our school beyond coal by calling for the university to make public its coal investments and begin a movement toward a truly sustainable university by divesting all university endowment funds out of the "Filthy 15"-- the dirtiest utilities, coal operators and mining companies in the U.S.


As part of the school’s climate action plan, the coal-fired power plant on campus is set to retire by 2017. It is important that the university stay committed to ending its support of dirty energy by disclosing its investments in coal, as well. It’s great that the university has agreed to stop supporting coal on our campus, but if we’re going to bring about the end of our nation’s dependence on coal, we need to stop our financial support of the industry as well. The University of Illinois can do more. By doing so, we will be actively building the clean energy future we all deserve.

What is Divestment?

Divestment is the process of selling an asset for either financial or social goals. Divestment is a powerful way to take a stand against companies involved in an activity that is morally reprehensible. This strategy has been used to send a strong message and to force change in corporate policies and governance. Through divestment campaigns, shareholders (the people and organizations that own corporate stock) take responsibility for the actions of the companies they own and demand change or sell their shares.

Why should the University of Illinois divest from coal-fired utilities and coal mining companies?

Coal has significant health and environmental effects

Coal is a dirty, dangerous fuel—obtaining it destroys mountains, burning it releases hazardous emissions, and disposing of it results in hazardous toxic waste. Every year in the U.S., 21,000 deaths, 24,000 hospitalizations, and 280,000 severe asthma attacks are attributable to the coal industry. Coal is the largest source of mercury pollution in the country, affecting 1 in 12 U.S. women, and damages from the coal industry cost the U.S. $100 billion a year in health costs. Additionally, coal is scorching the planet; it is the largest source of global warming pollution in the U.S. Many universities are profiting from this dirty, dangerous, and increasingly risky industry. Is the notion that growing the value of a school’s endowment is more important than the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer from coal-related illnesses?

Coal is a volatile industry

Coal was once referred to as cheap and abundant, but it is neither. Coal is a risky financial investment for two primary reasons: First, more than half of the U.S. coal fired plants are old, inefficient, and require major costly retrofits—costs that will not be recovered in the course of the plant’s useful life. Second, the price of coal and cost of extraction is going up, while investments in wind and solar reached record levels making coal-fired electricity a financial loser. Utilities and public utility commissions (PUCs) know the risks: Since 2005, utilities and PUCs have canceled plans for 153 new coal plants. These cancellations moved $243 billion away from coal to other opportunities. In 2010, plant closing announcements demonstrated that both larger and younger plants are no longer financially viable as plans for new natural gas plants and alternative energy projects increased.

With plans to retire announced on February 29th, the Fisk and Crawford facilities in Chicago are joined also by seven factories in Pennsylvania and Ohio that have recently announced they were retiring coal, bringing the number of coal power plant shutdowns since 2010 to 100.

What can investments go into?

The fact is, today there are alternative investments that make equal or better returns. The emerging renewables and clean technology industries are among the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. economy. Even investing in the campus itself through programs such as green revolving loan funds can provide real returns while creating educational opportunities. For universities, which are educating and training emerging leaders, the question comes down to whether they are investing in the future, with its new technology solutions that will create jobs and a healthier, cleaner world, or in the past, with its risky dirty energy holdings that are contributing to global problems.

Learn More



Recent signatures


    1. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Harry Mickalide URBANA, IL
      • about 1 year ago

      Because the fate of our species hangs in the balance

    • Morgan McCarthy HAWTHORN WOODS, IL
      • over 1 year ago

      I think there are better ways to release energy besides coal, and they need to be put into action now.

    • Amber Buck URBANA, IL
      • almost 2 years ago

      As a UIUC alum, I want to see the university move to the forefront in clean energy, and I don't want any of my future contributions to the university going to coal investments.

    • Shoshana Blank CAMBRIDGE, MA
      • almost 2 years ago

      Divesting from coal is one of the main ways that a university can put their money where their values lie. If you don't back up your ideals through actions, then you can't claim to be completely sustainable and environmentally friendly.

    • Juli Viel OFALLON, MO
      • almost 2 years ago

      It's for the future. It's for my kids and gradkids! The "future" is going up in the air and in the oceans right NOW.


    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the Change.org API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.