Climate change is real and is happening now.
DIvestment is one of the most powerful statements an institution can make with its money. Because money is inherently political, divesting from fossil fuels would demonstrate that our school does not condone the unethical behaviors of the fossil fuel industry, which include the unchecked emitting of dangerous pollutants into the atmosphere and in many cases, active funding of climate denial research. In order to stay below 2 degrees Celsius of warming, which has been deemed the upper limit to avoiding the most catastrophic effects of climate change, we must leave 80 percent of the current coal, oil, and gas reserves in the ground. The fossil fuel industry’s business model depends on its ability to burn all of the carbon in its reserves. Action must be taken to inhibit this trajectory of unchecked expansion and exploitation.
Divestment is a mode of harnessing the political power of our school.
Campuses have a moral imperative to address climate change in a way that reflects the urgency and severity of the current climate crisis. As an institution that exists to educate new generations of young people, Barnard has a moral duty to withdraw investments from an industry that profits from the destruction of our future. By remaining invested in the fossil fuel industry, Barnard itself is profiting from the destruction of the planet. Divesting from fossil fuels would bring Barnard one step closer to aligning its investments with its values. The objective of the global divestment movement is to stigmatize of the fossil fuel industry and more broadly, to highlight the necessity for a systematic change in the way we produce and consume energy. As a prestigious institution with a voice on the national stage, Barnard has a moral obligation to stand on the right side of history by divesting from fossil fuels.
Divestment has a history of success.
In 1977, several divestment campaigns were established on West coast and Midwest university campuses in protest of South Africa’s system of apartheid. As a result of these organized campaigns, the boards of trustees of several prominent universities voted to divest completely from South Africa and companies with major South African interests. The national divestment campaign, which was realized in federal legislation in 1986 by the United States, played a role in pressuring the South African Government to embark on negotiations ultimately leading to the dismantling of the Apartheid system.