Yesterday morning, three professors arguing for Stanford’s divestment from fossil fuels met with President John Hennessy to discuss their stance. Representing the 369 faculty signatories of a letter advocating for fossil fuel divestment, they presented Hennessy with the document and provided verbal arguments for divestment.
While scientists across the board recognize the long term dangers that arise from not addressing climate change, Stanford divesting from fossil fuels is impractical, hypocritical, and distracts us from more effective measures we could employ to combat climate change. Instead, Stanford should work to reduce its own carbon emissions.
Our money and our values are inextricably intertwined. As Stanford faculty and an alum, I encourage Stanford to invest in a fossil free future, which will pay dividends for many generations to come.
In April 2013, in my role as a San Francisco Supervisor, when an initiative came before the Board of Supervisors urging our retirement board to fully divest of fossil fuel holdings within five years, I noted that it would be ironic to have San Francisco’s employees’ retirement money in pension funds supporting fossil fuels. Individuals look to their retirement funds for a comfortable future – not one compromised by climate change.
In a study published by Energy in June, a group of Stanford academics predicted that California will use only renewable energy by 2050.
VANCOUVER, B.C.: I have been fortunate to live in many places, but none have ever felt like “home” in the way the Pacific Northwest does. It has the gray skies and rainy days that soothe my sun-scorched eyes, perfect vistas of tree-lined shores backed by snow-tipped mountains and long summer days that linger into early-morning…
Ultimately, the divestment movement is a cop-out. It is a way for some people to feel self-righteous without having to do anything. Students can celebrate that Stanford divested from coal without having to make any real changes in their lives. The investors in Peabody Energy Corp. may change, but that company mines coal just the same as it always has. If the divestment protestors really believed in their cause, they wouldn’t even be divestment protestors – instead, they would be working harder to reduce their own fossil fuel consumption. If the G4S protestors actually cared about human rights, they would be trying to protect human rights instead of changing the investors in a security company, a goal which does absolutely nothing for human rights.
First, we believe climate change is real and happening, and we have an undeniable responsibility to fight it. Second, we believe that reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is crucial to mitigate climate change impacts. That said, we also believe that divestment from coal—or fossil fuels in general—is not the right answer, and when compared to other options to reduce climate impacts, divesting from coal mines is clearly not the best solution.