by Sustainable Student Action
Climate Change and the Fossil-Fuel Industry
In July, 2012, author and activist Bill McKibben published
in Rolling Stones magazine called “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.”
McKibben reminded readers that the countries of the world, through the United
Nations, have agreed that we must limit human-induced warming of the planet to
2°C. To do so, scientists warn that we can only emit 565 more gigatons of CO2.
But the fossil fuel industry currently has 2,795 gigatons of CO2 in their
reserves and is spending millions every day looking for more carbon to burn.
(See 350.org for more.)
McKibben argued: “…Given this hard math, we need to view the
fossil-fuel industry in a new light. It has become a rogue industry, reckless
like no other force on Earth.” It is also the most profitable industry on
Seattle University Divestment
In response to this scary math, people across the globe are
calling for divestment from the fossil-fuel industry. For the sake of humanity
and the well-being of other species and ecological systems the fossil-fuel
industry must be stopped from doing what it does best: drilling and mining oil,
coal and gas to burn for energy. Impassioned by their Jesuit education and the longing
for a just and humane world, the student club Sustainable Student Action (SSA) is
calling on Seattle University to divest from fossil fuels.
Divestment involves selling off investments in a particular
industry to make a moral or political statement with potential economic
leverage. Seattle University, like all universities, has an endowment which it
invests in the stock market as a means of producing revenue. SSA calls on
Seattle University to take a moral and political stand with their investments.
Divestment has been used as an effective political tool, perhaps most notably
as a tool to help overturn South Africa’s apartheid policy.
On May 2nd SSA led a
rally to demonstrate student support for divestment. Over 150 students (and a
few faculty and staff) gathered as speeches and spoken word rang out on the
library steps. It was a stirring
experience, as students expressed their demands to the administration. Once the
speeches concluded, rally participants marched to the administration building. Student
leaders delivered a petition with over 600 signatures demanding that SU divest
from fossil fuels. For good measure, they also dropped off an oil barrel for President
Stephen Sundborg, S.J.
Father Sundborg, Administrators, and the Board of Trustees:
Because we as an institution have made it our mission to act
for social justice and sustainability, we call on Seattle University to
immediately freeze any new investment in fossil-fuel companies, whose practices
condemn the planet to climate disaster, and to divest within three years from
direct ownership and from any co-mingled funds that include fossil-fuel public
equities and corporate bonds.
SSA Gained an Audience
Based on the success of the rally, SSA was invited to speak
at a meeting of the university’s Investment Committee. Student leaders
expressed how Seattle University’s mission and the education they are receiving
drive them to make a moral and political statement against the largest threat
to justice and humanity on this planet.
SSA is waiting for a response from the Investment Committee.
This summer the group will use social media to distribute an electronic
petition, especially focused on reaching alumni. SSA is deeply committed to this
divestment campaign, and looks forward to working with the administration in
“Like” SSA on Facebook at Sustainable
Student Action and sign the online petition. To join SSA, or find out more about organizing
the movement, contact Ames Fowler at firstname.lastname@example.org.