FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2019
Multi-School Fossil Fuel Divestment Fund
Dr. Noel Healy
Dr. Becky Romatoski
Boston, MA — Salem State University —the only institution from the 30 participating schools in the Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund (MSFFDF) to fully divest from fossil fuels—will receive all of the funds holdings on April 11th 2019.
As no other participating school in the MSFFDF divested by the end of the December 2018 deadline, Salem State University will be awarded with 30 schools’ escrowed donations.
The fund was established in 2014 to collectively pressure universities to divest from fossil fuels. The MSFFDF allowed parents, alumni, faculty, staff, students, and others to leverage their donations to help participating universities do the right thing. On May 24th 2018 Salem State University announced it had sold the universities’ prior holdings in Carbon 200 (fossil fuel companies). This decision followed a five-year campaign by University students, faculty and alumni.
Participating MSFFDF schools included MIT, Stanford University, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Boston College, Brandeis University, Allegheny College, Amherst College, Dartmouth College, Fort Lewis College, Georgetown University, James Madison University, Reed College, St. Paul’s School, Stony Brook University, Syracuse University, Salem State University, Trinity College, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Mary Washington, University of Notre Dame, University of Oregon, University of Pennsylvania, University of Rhode Island, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wellesley College, Western Washington University, Williams College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Worcester State University.
The MSFFDF will present the $57,000 check to Salem State University officials on April 11th 2019. Salem State University will use the funds to establish two endowed student scholarships – a climate justice, and social justice undergraduate award.
Participating students, faculty, alumni and parents who joined together to create a multi-school donor-advised divestment fund would like to thank Salem State University for standing on the right side of history.
Professor Noel Healy of Salem State University stated, “Now more than ever it’s critical that universities take a moral stand against the obstructionism of the fossil fuel industry”. Divestment, he added, is “a tactic, which can be employed by individuals, organizations, and institutions to hold fossil fuel companies responsible for nearly 40 years of climate deception and harm”.
Citing a March 2019 InfluenceMap study Dr. Healy stated “The world’s 5 largest publicly owned fossil fuel companies—Exxon, BP, Shell, Chevron, and Total—spend approximately $200 million a year on lobbying to delay or block binding climate policy. The success of fossil fuels companies’ business models requires pushing the world beyond the Paris Climate warming limits.”
Dr. Noel Healy went on to say, “Publicly, Big Oil supports the Paris Agreement goals – behind closed doors they lobby to delay climate action. It therefore isn’t surprising that the average congressional opponent of the Green New Deal has received 24 times more campaign donations from fossil fuel companies than sponsors the climate change resolution.”
Harvard University Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr. Geoffrey Supran, who studies the history of climate denial with Prof. Naomi Oreskes and recently testified to the EU Parliament about their research showing ExxonMobil misled the public on climate change, added: “Big Oil is the new Big Tobacco. This is a rogue industry whose decades of denial and delay have imperiled humanity, and whose doubt-mongering undermine the integrity of science and universities’ very raison d’être: truth and knowledge.”
Dr. Becky Romatoski Professor of Engineering and Physics at St. Ambrose University stated “the global monthly temperature has been above average since February 1985. For college students and young people everywhere, they’ve only ever known a warmer planet. I am worried about the Earth my two year old son is inheriting due to severely delayed action and because of the gap between what is being done and what is needed to stop global warming.”
The global climate justice movement is growing fast. Alyssa Lee of the Better Future Project, stated: “there are currently approximately 80 active campus fossil fuel divestment campaigns in the U.S. And in 2019, we are seeing a very prominent resurgence of the campus fossil fuel divestment movement”. Nearly half of all UK universities have committed to divest from fossil fuels.
Since 2012 the number of institutions committing to fossil fuel divestment has increased rapidly and spread globally. Now over 1000 institutions with managed investments worth almost USD $8 trillion have committed to divest from fossil fuels.
Dr. Noel Healy concluded by saying: “The 2018 IPCC Special Report shows that warming beyond 1.5°C endangers the most vulnerable and undercuts efforts to eradicate global poverty and hunger – the business model of fossil fuel companies is ultimately incompatible with a just and stable future”.
Additional Context for Media:
§ Notable divestment commitments include the New York City Employee Retirement System, the Rockefeller Brothers and Family Funds, Republic of Ireland’s Strategic Investment Fund, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, Germany-based financial services giant Allianz, the World Council of Churches, Allianz, the cities of Paris, Melbourne and Oslo. The Bank of England, HSBC, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank have all issued warnings on the risks of fossil fuel investments.
§ The moral case for divestment is clear. And the limitations of engagement with fossil fuel companies are even clearer. The Securities and Exchange Commission has refused ExxonMobil shareholders a vote on whether the company should set targets for cutting its GHG emissions following an April 2nd 2019 ruling.