Petitioning Connecticut College Board of Trustees

Divest Connecticut College From Fossil Fuels

Demand for Divestment

We call on the Connecticut College Board of Trustees to divest the College endowment from fossil fuels and from companies that directly contribute funds and resources to the fossil fuel industry. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that “scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and as an academic institution we must be a leader engaged in the movement away from reliance on fossil fuels. The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that “the primary human activity affecting the amount and rate of climate change is greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.” The Board of Trustees should immediately freeze all future investments in the fossil fuel industry, create a sustainable investment portion of the endowment fund that is screened and dedicated to socially and environmentally responsible causes, and in the future place all commingled investments into pools that screen investments from fossil fuels and companies directly contributing funds to or investments in fossil fuel companies.


Climate Change and Fossil Fuels

As stated by NASA, 97% of climate scientists agree that recent climate change is caused by human activities. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the burning of fossil fuels is the largest known input of anthropogenic climate change. In 2015 President Obama stated “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”


Connecticut College Values

Environmental stewardship is a key value of Connecticut College. According to President Bergeron’s strategic plan, our college is committed to promoting conservation and sustainability. Our current investment model allows for the investment in fossil fuels and is thus not consistent with our college’s mission statement and core values. Fossil fuels are not a sound investment.


Social Harms of the Fossil Fuel Industry

Additionally, as stated by College President Katherine Bergeron in a campus-wide email sent on January 30, 2017, “the founding values of Connecticut College are based on a commitment to basic human rights and the expansive possibilities of liberal education.” The social harms of the fossil fuel industry are numerous. The Huffington Post has run multiple articles on “sacrifice zones” for the industry in the past 8 years. A 2011 article noted that these zones, where “communities that (are) knowingly polluted by American businesses” are “79 percent more likely” to be inhabited by African Americans than whites. A recent article from 2016 covers a symposium on climate justice, quoting a woman named Cherri Foytlin who “talked passionately about conditions on the ground in South Louisiana, an area hard hit by elevated cancer rates brought on by industrial toxicity. ‘I’m living in a sacrifice zone, which means my life and my kids don’t mean anything. People think it’s about pollution. For us it’s about survival.’” These grievous harms of the fossil fuel industry primarily affect the most vulnerable members of our society, and stand in direct opposition to the previously stated core values of our institution. Connecticut College, by continuing to invest in these companies, makes the political statement that we support these actions by putting our money behind them and turning a blind eye to injustice.


How We Will Divest

Short term: Divest direct holdings in fossil fuel industry and freeze future investments in fossil fuels.

Mid term: Create a sustainable investment portion of the endowment fund that is screened and dedicated to socially and environmentally responsible causes. Create a system where donors can tag their donations for this sustainable fund.

Long term: Place all commingled investments into pools that screen investments from fossil fuels and companies directly contributing funds to or investments in fossil fuel companies. All commingled investments must make socially and environmentally ethical investments.

Sources:

https://www.epa.gov/climate-change-science/causes-climate-change

https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/pd/climate/factsheets/howhuman.pdf

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-33764762

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jesse-kornbluth/chemical-oil-giants-built_b_741564.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marcia-g-yerman/im-living-in-a-sacrifice-_b_8246486.html

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  • Connecticut College Board of Trustees

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