Climate Action Movement releases statement calling for divestment of University funds in fossil fuel industry

Monday, January 13, 2020 - 9:06pm

The Climate Action Movement calls on the University to divest from fossil fuels

The Climate Action Movement calls on the University to divest from fossil fuels Buy this photo
Keemya Esmael

The University of Michigan Climate Action Movement released a statement on Monday directed at University President Mark Schlissel and the Board of Regents articulating their views and suggestions regarding the University’s fossil fuel investments. In the statement, CAM commends the Regents’ refusal to invest more money into fossil fuels as the first of many steps towards carbon neutrality at Michigan.

University Regent Jordan Acker (D) tweeted about the recent vote to reject a $50 million investment into a fossil fuel company called Vendera Resources. 

“Vendera is a company that almost exclusively invests in Oil and Gas drilling and exploration, some of the greatest drivers of climate change,” Acker wrote. “At the very moment that @UMich needs to be pushing away from dirty energy, this is absolutely the wrong path.” 

In their letter, CAM explains that while this is a heartening first step in changing Michigan’s financial climate policies, there is still more progress to be made and they expect this to be addressed at the upcoming regents meetings. 

“University of Michigan still has over $1 billion invested in fossil fuel companies, financing an industry that is, without exaggeration, knowingly and demonstrably responsible for planet-wide destabilization on a scale that threatens the very foundations of human society,” the statement reads. “It is imperative that this decision be just the first step toward a complete withdrawal of University funds from fossil fuels.” 

At the opening of the Michigan Union on Monday, students from CAM dropped a banner criticizing the University’s climate policies saying, “System change not climate change.” 

CAM wrote they expected the University’s administration to take immediate action to divest funds in the oil and coal industries. 

“... Although it is not possible to divest the current holdings in full overnight, we urge the Regents to take action immediately by ceasing all new investments in the fossil fuel industry and publicly committing to immediate next steps for the divestiture of the University’s endowment and retirement funds from fossil fuels,” CAM wrote. 

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said he had nothing further to share at this time. 

CAM also outlined the ideal scope for this proposed divestment, which would include all companies with carbon reserves; companies that explore for, extract, process, transmit or refine oil, coal and gas; and utilities that burn fossil fuels to produce electricity. 

Their statement also highlighted the moral rationale behind divestment in addition to financial justifications. 

“In fact, it is imperative that the Regents make explicit that investing in the fossil fuel industry at this point in time is morally wrong and directly counter to some of the University’s deepest-held values,” the statement said. “The endowment should reflect the values of the University; that starts with fossil fuel divestment.”