University of Miami: Stop Investing in Fossil Fuels

University of Miami: Stop Investing in Fossil Fuels

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Climate Reality Project @UMiami started this petition to UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI and

It is unconscionable for the University of Miami to profit from the condemnation of the planet to climate disaster. We call on UM to immediately freeze any new fossil fuel investment in the endowment, and fully divest from these companies, including public equities and corporate bonds, within five years.

Fossil fuel companies profit on the sale of goods that irreparably damage the Earth’s climate when burned. After decades of public misinformation lobbying campaigns, these companies now claim to refocus on clean energy. Yet the International Energy Agency found that 99% of their investments are still in fossil fuel production—oil, gas, and coal companies can only sell oil, gas, and coal.

The time for funding these investments is over. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that net carbon emissions globally must fall by 45% by 2030 to avoid the worst climate impacts, with the UN Environment Programme announcing in December even worse outlooks for fossil fuel production. As such, investing in these companies would be a violation of University policies on human rights, a poor investment strategy, and a threat to the fundamental survival of Miami itself.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has declared that “the world has never seen a threat to human rights, human health, and human welfare like climate change.” Communities, cultures, and entire nations in precarious environments like low-lying islands, arctic tundras, and arid deserts face existential risk from Climate Change. The University of Miami Socially Responsible Investments Policy announces that “effective, ethical service to others, whether of this generation or future generations” is “integral to the University’s mission.” To meet this mission, it forbids investments knowingly made in companies “whose business is illegal or in violation of basic human rights.”

Beyond this, climate change presents material threats to the value of fossil fuel companies. The collapse of the publicly traded coal industry in the last decade only presages the outcomes for the remaining fossil fuel companies in the next. Stock market investments without fossil fuel companies have outperformed their polluting alternatives in eight of the last nine years, and this trend will only get more pronounced with time. As Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said, $20 trillion in assets are at risk, and companies that cannot adapt will go bankrupt.

Lastly, UM should play no role in threatening its home, South Florida. The University aspires to “provide service to our community and beyond”, yet 600,000 people in South Florida face “extreme” risk from sea level rise, with nearly $350 billion in real estate below projected sea levels state-wide. Other risks like heat exposure, mosquito-borne diseases, hurricane damage, and habitat loss are similarly dire. As President Frenk said at the Climate Symposium, “we are not neutral researchers.”

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At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!