Climate Victory of the Week: Syracuse Divests
An 18-day sit-in sure helped: Syracuse University announced on March 31st that it is dropping all fossil fuel stocks from its $1.2 billion endowment. Stanford University promised last year to drop coal stocks from its huge $21.4 billion endowment. But Syracuse is now widely reported to be the largest endowment to “completely divest” from all fossil fuel stocks.
The students, while jubilant at the victory, nonetheless critiqued the New York Times for being less than completely accurate in reporting on the divestment announcement. From the Syracuse divestment campaign’s Facebook page:
“But the article is wrong about full divestment – Syracuse University put a prohibition on direct investments from fossil fuels, which they had none of in the first place. SU still has substantial investments in fossil fuels through external fund managers.”
In a throwback to anti-apartheid divestment campaign days, the university pats itself on the back without giving credit to the fiercely determined student organizers who actually won the victory. The New York Times reports:
The university’s chancellor, Kent Syverud, said the move was part of Syracuse’s “long record of supporting responsible environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship.”
Student protesters staged an 18-day sit-in in November over divestment and other issues. Katie McChesney, a campus divestment campaign organizer with the climate action group 350.org, said the student action showed that “if you want results, turn up the heat.”
Turning up the heat: That’s what it’s all about. On the same day Syracuse announced its divestment, a major story came out about the huge increase in glacial melt: Massive Glacier Melt and Fresh Water are Pouring into the Gulf of Alaska.
The next day — today, April 1st 2015 — the Guardian Media Group announced it is divesting its 800M pound fund from fossil fuels.
It’s a race against time.