Demand Georgia Tech Invest Sustainably
Demand Georgia Tech Invest Sustainably
Why this petition matters
April 8, 2022
Dear members of the Georgia Tech community:
Two years ago, Georgia Tech Divest (GT Divest) released a petition that garnered 450+ student, faculty, staff, and alumni signatures and 40+ signatures from GT-affiliated organizations calling for the Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia Tech Foundation to divest from fossil fuels. Today, we, the students of the Association for Sustainable Investment at Georgia Tech (ASI), renew our call for the Georgia Tech Foundation to remove fossil fuel assets from its investment portfolio and support a more sustainable future by creating a public sustainability investment policy that commits the Foundation to (1) fossil fuel divestment, (2) standardized, transparent and sustainable investment practices, and (3) increased investment in renewable energies. The grave threats posed by the current climate and ecological crisis as well as the unnecessary financial risk posed by investment in non-renewable forms of energy highlight the urgent need for this policy.
Over the course of the last two years, student leaders in ASI have worked to educate members of the student body about fossil fuel divestment and sustainable investments, and hold individual conversations with members of the Georgia Tech Foundation’s Board of Trustees, the President of the Foundation, and the President of the Institute. While we appreciate these discussions, it is clear that we need students, faculty, staff, and alumni who care about the environmental and social impact of Georgia Tech’s investments to raise their voices again and urge the Foundation to take bold and decisive action. The Foundation claims an informal policy of public silence on investment concerns, yet the time has come for change to transition the Georgia Tech Foundation into a national leader in profitable sustainable investing that puts its students’ futures first.
The Georgia Tech Strategic Plan states that “we hold one another to the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct [and that] we are transparent and accountable, and strive to earn and maintain the public trust.” Moreover, the Georgia Tech Foundation’s mission includes “aid[ing] the Georgia Institute of Technology in its development as a leading education institution.” How can we strive for these ideals while simultaneously investing in fossil fuels during a climate crisis and ignoring the need for greater focus on sustainability in finance? In 2017, McKinsey & Company released a report citing higher returns from sustainable investing. One of the reasons for this is the damaged reputation companies incur by non-sustainable practices; this is a reputation we should avoid inheriting.
Furthermore, Georgia Tech has recently completed the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) Report by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), for which we received the lowest possible score for our “Investment and Finance” credit: 0/7. The practices of the Foundation are inherently tied to those of Georgia Tech, and its current practices do not reflect the sustainability priorities that the Institute has publicly supported. Additionally, a recent poll found that 87% of Georgia voters want more active measures against climate change, recent financial returns in oil and gas are proving to be increasingly volatile, and many of Georgia Tech’s public and private peer institutions, including Cornell University, Stanford University, the University of California, the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington, have announced full or partial fossil fuel divestment efforts. Taking into account the above mentioned points, it is clear that transparent sustainable investment, including public fossil fuel divestment, is the right course of action, both morally and financially.
We believe in Progress and Service. We believe in Georgia Tech and the financial support the Georgia Tech Foundation provides for students, but we cannot ignore the environmental degradation the Foundation supports through its investments, the additional greenhouse gas emissions Georgia Tech assumes through these investments, and the lack of transparency that contradicts our Institute values and priorities in addition to the long-term financial risk we are needlessly taking on.
We ask you to join us in this dire effort to push Georgia Tech to adopt a public sustainability investment policy that will transition the Georgia Tech Foundation into a visionary model for what profitable sustainable investing can look like for a university foundation free of fossil fuel investments.