It’s Your Move, Trustees: Mount Holyoke Faculty are in Favor of Fossil Fuel Divestment

SOUTH HADLEY, Massachusetts — At the Mount Holyoke Faculty Meeting on May 4th, 92% of the faculty expressed support for divestment from fossil fuels.

The efforts of the Mount Holyoke Climate Justice Coalition (CJC) are coming to fruition. This faculty vote is a key step towards securing a decision on fossil fuel divestment by the Mount Holyoke Board of Trustees. President Pasquerella tasked an ad hoc committee through Planning & Budget to discuss fossil fuel divestment thoroughly and present recommendations to the Board of Trustees. The committee presented a statement* in favor of divestment at the Faculty Meeting and led a discussion on the pros and cons of supporting it before holding the vote.

The ad hoc committee consisted of three faculty members, two staff members, and one student. The statement they created is a pledge to gradually withdraw the endowment from fossil fuel investments as fossil free investment options become increasingly available. CJC supports this statement, although the student group has more specific goals to remove investments within the next five years. CJC also specifies immediately freezing new fossil fuel investments in the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies and reinvesting in sustainable alternatives to help transition away from fossil fuels. Below are the results from the faculty vote:

66% of the faculty support the committee’s statement.

23% of the faculty support the committee’s statement, but would prefer a stronger statement, along the lines of the CJC statement.

3% of the faculty support the stronger CJC statement and therefore do not support the committee’s statement.

8% of the faculty did not support the committee’s statement for a different reason.

The Planning & Budget Committee faculty members put forward the ad hoc committee statement to the Board of Trustees for review.

Mount Holyoke CJC is one of thousands of fossil fuel divestment campaigns across the world. We are part of a movement that is urging universities, faith groups, cities and other communities to help transition to renewable energy. Divestment is a tactic used to stigmatize the unjust practices of the fossil fuel industry. Climate change disproportionately affects women, children, and minorities. It is the responsibility of institutions such as Mount Holyoke to pave the way for a more sustainable future.

*(update on 03/15/17) The ad hoc committee statement is as follows:

Mount Holyoke College acknowledges that the threat of global warming from continued use of fossil fuels poses serious environmental concerns. Fundamentally, the issue is one of social justice as climate change will have its most deleterious effects on peoples and countries that are least responsible for creating the problem. We recognize that the world must find a way to keep most of the remaining fossil fuel resources in the ground. This requires significant changes in investment strategies and political thinking. The status quo is no longer an acceptable moral option.

Therefore, Mount Holyoke College pledges to gradually withdraw its endowment from fossil fuels as appropriate investment instruments become available. We call upon all institutions of higher learning to join us in this effort. Our leaders in Washington, our investment fund managers, and indeed, financial and governing institutions globally, must be encouraged to find a new paradigm regarding energy and a sustainable future. Mount Holyoke College is committed to this future.

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For more information, please contact Mount Holyoke Climate Justice Coalition on Facebook or through email at mhclimatejustice@gmail.com.

Mount Holyoke CJC Divestment Campaign Spring Update: http://www.mhradix.org/science-environment/2016/4/7/never-fear-divestment