Superstorms like Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan, which has killed thousands of people in the Philippines, are sobering reminders of the immediate seriousness of climate change. Students around the world are challenging their university endowments to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in clean infrastructure, technology, and services.
To help students explain complex financial issues to their endowment trustees, As You Sow, working with 350.org, created Talk Divest: the Fossil Free Financial Mentorship Project. The project brings together financial professionals and student divestment campaigns, and is designed to equip campaigners with the financial arguments, data, and analysis needed to demonstrate that divesting from fossil fuels is not only a moral imperative, but also a sound financial action. For the pilot program, students from the University of California divestment-reinvest campaign met with As You Sow founder Tom Van Dyck to discuss these issues. The session was filmed and the footage will be turned into a tutorial and made available to students.
As You Sow is proud to have been a pioneering organization in the college campus carbon divestment-reinvestment movement that started in 2010. Along with coalition partners at Responsible Endowments Coalition, Sierra Student Coalition, Energy Action Coalition, California Student Sustainability Coalition, and the Sustainable Endowments Institute, we created the first tools and structures to assist students in persuading their university endowment trustees that divesting from carbon-based industries is not only critical but also fiscally responsible.
Carbon divestment and clean energy reinvestment is now taking its place among the key strategies for curtailing climate change. This past summer, President Obama gave a speech on climate change that pointed to carbon divestment and clean reinvestment as a tool citizens can use to fight climate change. So far, seven colleges and universities, over a dozen religious institutions, and nearly two dozen cities have committed to pursue fossil fuel divestment, reinvesting those monies in clean energy infrastructure, technology, and services.