Divestment: I call it Fossil Fuel Graduation

No comments:
By John Romankiewicz
“If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage,” Bill McKibben

Divestment Rally at UC Berkeley on Halloween 2013 (Photo: Zubair A. Dar)
Though I had been living in Berkeley for two years prior working at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, when I enrolled in the ERG Master’s program this fall, I looked for additional ways to get involved in the Berkeley community as a student, not as a scientist. Fossil Free Cal was one club that immediately caught my attention: a club rooted in climate change science but driven by student activists.

Sparked by Bill McKibben’s widely read expose on the fossil fuel industry “Global Warming’s Terrifying new Math” (which I had read a number of times), a campus-driven divestment campaign has taken root at over 300 colleges and universities across the country. These campuses are asking their institution’s endowment to divest from fossil fuels to show that our higher institutions of learning will not invest in the planet’s destruction. “If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage,” McKibben said on his latest “Do the Math” tour.

Building on the club’s success last semester in passing an ASUC referendum supporting UC Berkeley divestment (with 73% of student body voting in support), Fossil Free Cal has begun strategizing how to influence the decision makers for divestment, including Chancellor Dirks, Berkeley Foundation president Scott Biddy, and the UC Office of the President.

If you add up the total endowments for all of the UC universities, there is about $7 billion, of which we estimate 5-10% is invested in fossil fuel companies (we don’t know yet for sure, as there is no investment transparency). The UC Berkeley endowment is roughly $3 billion, with 1/3 of that managed by the Berkeley Foundation, and 2/3 managed by the UC Regents.

We have launched an online petition to continue building support on campus among students, faculty, and alumni. We have spoken at UC Regents stakeholder meetings, and had initial meetings with Chancellor Dirks and the UC Office of the President, in which we started these crucial conversations and gained useful feedback.

Please sign our petition if you stand with us. Sign here! We are also working on getting as much faculty support as possible, so please speak with your professors about our campaign.

Lastly, this campaign has given me an opportunity to continue to perform my eco-rap and spoken word in support of good causes. Here I am at our October 31 rally on Sproul Plaza, the “Fossil Fuel Haunting”, in which I perform as a conflicted oil rig and ghost of a fossil fuel future.

Also watch "Sustainable" John's Bike Shop / Climate Awesome eco-rap video.

The views expressed here belong solely to the author of this entry and are not representative of the position of the Energy and Resources Group, UC Berkeley.

No comments:

Post a Comment

© ERG. Design adapted from Main-Blogger Blogger Template.