Columbia Divest for Climate Justice members after a successful action outside a meeting by the Advisory Committee for Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI); September 2015.
What is Columbia Divest for Climate Justice?
Columbia Divest for Climate Justice is a coalition of students, faculty, and Columbia community members united to divest our $9.2B endowment from the fossil fuel industry; specifically from the Carbon Underground 200, a list of the top 100 oil & gas and top 100 coal companies (by size of reserves).
We are part of the international movement for climate justice, and we started back in the fall of 2012 when a few of our founding members attended a talk by Bill McKibben, on his “Do the Math” tour.
We call for divestment, because the total amount of proven fossil fuel reserves (on the books, meant to be burned) will produce 5x more carbon than we can safely burn to stay within 2°C of global warming. That’s the ‘safe’ limit that countries agreed upon in 2009, in the Copenhagen Accord – even though low-lying nations will drown at 1.5°C.
Basically, fossil fuel companies will burn every last drop of oil, gas, and coal for profit – even though their business model is an existential threat to humanity.
To “divest” means to withdraw funds from an industry in order to make a statement. Divestment, on its own, will not financially bankrupt the fossil fuel industry, but we hope as a movement to drive the industry to “moral bankruptcy.”
There are a variety of ways in which we could make the transition to a clean energy economy; however, none of them will work until our leaders understand that prioritizing fossil fuel companies’ profits over the safety and health of the people is not an option.
We are not alone; as of September 2015, institutions and governments representing over $2.6 trillion in assets have divested from fossil fuel companies. We are in coalition with hundreds of student campaigns at universities in the United States and all over the world. Columbia itself announced it will divest from coal in March 2017, and we plan to campaign until they divest from oil and natural gas as well.
We welcome further involvement on many levels from anyone affiliated with the Columbia University community – in the way that will make the most of your skills & passions!