The international association of Academics Stand Against Poverty has come out in favor of the growing movement of universities divesting from fossil fuel investments. The news comes on the heels of several big divestment announcements, including Syracuse University’s decision to prohibit direct investment in coal mining and other fossil fuel companies.
However, despite the growing consensus amongst international education institutions, one big-name university has recently won its way free of legal entanglements. The Harvard Corporation, the governing body behind Harvard University, was recently granted its motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Harvard students intended to “compel the Harvard Corporation to divest from fossil fuel companies.” The announcement was made on March 23rd by the Suffolk Superior Court, however the “student plaintiffs said they plan to appeal the decision, and expect a higher court to rehear their case in the coming months.”
Across the pond, the campaign to pressure Oxford University to divest from fossil fuels remains in limbo, awaiting the next Oxford University Council Meeting.
Regardless of the lack of movement at these two prestigious institutions, the Academics Stand Against Poverty’s (ASAP) belief that there is a “growing movement to divest university endowments from fossil fuel companies” is backed by numerous and regular announcements.
On March 31, Syracuse University announced that it is formalizing “its commitment to prohibit direct investment of endowment funds in coal mining and other fossil fuel companies” after University officials met with members of Divest SU, a student-based group aiming to pressure its school to divest from investments in the fossil fuel industry.
“It is heartening to see our students fully engaged on this important issue,” says Bea González, dean of University College and special assistant to the Chancellor, in the wake of the decision. “We have already had productive dialogue on divestment, and this step underscores our mutual commitment to acting in a way that supports the best interests of the University, our students and the world.”
Such widespread recognition and public pressure is why numerous groups are jumping on the proverbial divestment bandwagon. Specifically, the Academics Stand Against Poverty announced its own support of university divestment programs, applauding “the recent divestment commitments made by Stanford University, the New School, University of Glasgow, Syracuse University, and 23 other universities in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere” — which CleanTechnica has covered for some years now.
Concluding its public statement, which presents both a financial and moral argument for fossil fuel divestment, ASAP states that they “believe that institutions of higher education have a special duty to take this stand.”
As academics, we are in the privileged position to understand the risks posed by climate change and to make powerful statements in support of action. We support the student-led divestment campaigns at universities around the world. We support the recent decision by the United Nations – and UN General Secretary Ban-Ki Moon – to back the divestment movement. We support the cities of Seattle, Portland, Bristol, Oxford, and nearly 50 others in their decision to divest from fossil fuels, as well as the 30 foundations and nearly 100 religious organizations that have done the same. And we support The Guardian’s campaign to ask the Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to divest, recognizing that investments in fossil fuels are inimical to their efforts to advance global development and health.
In the words of Desmond Tutu: “We can no longer continue feeding our addiction to fossil fuels as if there were no tomorrow, or there will be no tomorrow.”