April 22, 2016
Contact: Iliana Salazar-Dodge, 951-553-6581, firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY — Today is Earth Day and day eight of Columbia Divest for Climate Justice’s occupation in Low Library, Columbia’s iconic building and home to the office of President Lee Bollinger. Given that Bollinger, the target of our action, will be in California for a week, the six of us inside Low have decided it no longer makes sense for us to continue the occupation. We are leaving in the midst of closed door negotiations, so we know that the we have put the administration on the path towards full fossil fuel divestment. Although President Bollinger has not yet released a public statement recommending divestment from coal, oil, and gas, CDCJ has undeniably shifted public opinion and stands on the highest moral ground.
As we mentioned in an earlier piece, the Earth Institute supports our objective of divestment from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies. In fact, the criteria set forth by the Earth Institute’s Statement on University Investment and Sustainability Policy is even broader in scope than our ask for the top 200 companies. Administrative bodies, specifically the Advisory Committee for Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI), have taken it upon themselves to come up with alternative proposals that “stand up for science.” Yet, what better way to stand up for science than to agree to the proposal set forth by the Earth Institute itself, which is comprised of world-renowned scientists including Wallace Broecker, the man who coined global warming, James Hansen, and Ruth DeFries?
Leaders of the Earth Institute, including Professor Jeffrey Sachs who today spearheaded the signing of the international Sustainable Development Goals, have denounced the ACSRI’s proposal as insufficient. Professor Michael Gerrard, a climate law professor who helped draft the Earth Institute statement, has submitted it as an official proposal to the committee. It is likely that the ACSRI will vote on it soon.
We are exiting today after having seen a groundswell of support. Over the past eight days, 30 student groups, 160 faculty members, and 400 alumni have come out in support of our occupation for fossil fuel divestment. In a climax last night, over 100 students camped out on Low steps in solidarity with our efforts, many of whom had never been to a political rally on campus before.
Although our specific demand of receiving a public endorsement of divestment from President Bollinger has not yet materialized, we leave this building victoriously. CDCJ, along with the support of students in the Barnard Columbia Solidarity Network, have created an unstoppable movement on campus. We look forward to seeing President Bollinger and the Trustees step up and lead in the face of climate injustice.