To begin with, fossil fuel divestment is the removal of investment assets including stocks, bonds, and investment funds from companies involved in extracting fossil fuels, in an attempt to reduce climate change. Several groups advocate fossil fuel divestment, which in 2015 was reportedly the fastest growing divestment movement in history. Nonetheless, by September 2014, 181 institutions and 656 individuals had committed to divest over $50 billion.
To add more, in 2013, the Fossil Free campaign was launched in the UK. It highlighted the £5billion held in universities’ endowments, with the first campaigns launching at Edinburgh, Birmingham and University College London. Yet it was the Quakers in Britain who became the first to divest in October that year. By the end of the year, research by Oxford University suggested that it had become the fastest growing divestment campaign in history, surpassing those targeting the tobacco industry and apatheid in South Africa. Today, the movement has only continued to accelerate the most symbolic announcement of all came in September 2014 as the heirs to Rockefeller oil fortune came on board, withdrawing the fossil fuel investments in the $860m Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Environmentalists all around the world believe that if it is wrong to wreck the planet then it is even worse to profit from that wreckage. Not to forget, the fossil fuel divestment movement is calling on mission-driven institutions to divest from the dirty, dangerous fossil fuel companies that have caused climate catastrophe in their ruthless pursuit of profit. Interestingly, they hold their universities to a relatively higher standard and are demanding they divest from this human rights violating rogue industry.The fossil fuel divestment movement has spread like wildfire to over 300 campuses and even cities, faith-based institutions, foundations, and pension funds. The ultimate goal is to diminish the influence and power of the fossil fuel industry in the market, the political system, and in the social conscience overall. It’s time for global universities to invest in accordance to their mission and in a safe, clean future for current students and future generations.