There’s no doubt that the fossil fuel industry causes major environmental harm. In 2009, President Herbst signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), a symbol of Colgate’s acknowledgement that fossil fuels and climate change have a direct relationship. As an institution of higher education, and arguably one of the top liberal arts universities in the nation, I believe that Colgate has the opportunity to serve as a model for other schools across the globe in choosing to divest from fossil fuels – removing all financial investments from companies related to the fossil fuel industry.
While participating in the 13th Annual Green Summit earlier this month, where groups like Students for Environmental Action were focusing on divestment, it became clear to me that there are several key reasons that it makes sense to spark a divestment campaign on campus. First, Colgate’s Climate Action Plan commits Colgate to more responsible energy use in order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2019 and, as a university, we’ve already acknowledged the link to between fossil fuels and climate change through the ACUPCC. Continuing to put money into companies that are causing these huge environmental impacts doesn’t align with the goals Colgate has set for itself.
Additionally, divestment from fossil fuels could be a great marketing tool, particularly given that two of our peer institutions, Middlebury and Oberlin, pride themselves on their environmental focus. By divesting, Colgate could put itself on par or even above Middlebury and Oberlin environmentally and draw a more diverse, globally
engaged set of applicants.
Finally, fossil fuel investments are going to go downhill eventually. Coal, oil and gas will lose their value over time as climate change becomes worse. At some point, those who divested will be significantly more financially secure than those who didn’t.
Although divestment at Colgate wouldn’t change the world or even significantly mitigate the effects of climate change, it would set a precedent for thousands of universities and colleges around the world, and it would show that Colgate is producing globally minded students who are prepared to put thought into action.
Contact Sara Reese at [email protected]