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ESF to Divest from Fossil Fuel Investments
The ESF College Foundation, Inc., in partnership with the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and the ESF Board of Trustees, has announced its intention to divest from investments in fossil fuels.
The announcement marks ESF as the first of SUNY's 64 campuses to establish a divestment goal, according to a list of divestment commitments maintained by 350.org, an international environmental organization that works to call attention to carbon dioxide levels and climate change. ESF's goal is to fully divest from the top 200 companies that are directly involved in the extraction, processing, and transportation of coal, oil, and natural gas.
The ESF College Foundation, which manages approximately $29 million in investments, currently has no direct investments in fossil fuels and has pledged to make no such investments in the future. In addition, the College Foundation will work toward the ultimate goal of divesting from indirect investments in the 200 companies that have been identified by the Carbon Underground as the top fossil fuel companies, based on their potential climate impact.
"ESF will continue its commitment to research, scholarship, innovation, and public education that hasten the end of the age of fossil fuel dependency, increase renewable energy options, improve energy efficiencies of built environments, and maximize living organic matter as a storehouse of carbon and renewable energy," said ESF President Quentin Wheeler. "These actions are consistent with ESF's values as an environmental college and our responsibility to lead by example."
"The College Foundation hopes to achieve this goal in a fiscally responsible manner that allows us to continue providing financial support of ESF's academic programs and student scholarships," said Brenda Greenfield, executive director of the foundation.
The decision to divest is, in part, a response to a student resolution calling for divestment that was approved by the college's Undergraduate Student Association and action by a student group called Divest ESF.
"The facts are clear, climate change is happening, and we must do everything in our power to act on it. Divesting from the companies that are directly causing climate chaos sends a message to our students, alumni, and community that ESF is prepared to lead the global community into a just transition away from a fossil fuel-based economy," said Katie Oran, an organizer with Divest ESF.
"Climate change is the largest threat to global security that we've ever known, and to focus solely on the environmental impacts of this crisis is a great injustice to those who are already suffering the devastating impacts of droughts, fires, and storms. Divestment allows students on campus to view the climate crisis as a deeper justice issue, as well as an environmental issue," added Oran.
The college has invited students to help plan and co-host an investment symposium with partners from other universities, financial institutions and NGOs. The symposium will be designed to address the role of divestment and reinvestment as an agent of global change.