Tim DeChristopher: There is no “neutral” in the climate fight

Read Tim DeChristopher’s response to Harvard’s president Drew Faust’s position on divestment published in The Nation.

Drew Faust seeks a position of neutrality in a struggle where the powerful only ask that people like her remain neutral. She says that Harvard’s endowment shouldn’t take a political position, and yet it invests in an industry that spends countless millions on corrupting our political system. In a world of corporate personhood, if she doesn’t want that money to be political, she should put it under her mattress. She has clearly forgotten the words of Paolo Freire: “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and powerless means to side with the powerful, not to remain neutral.” Or as Howard Zinn put succinctly, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.”

GU Fossil Free at Georgetown

Change Magazine published a piece about GU Fossil Free.

Through the scaffolding established by McKibben’s overarching Fossil Free Campaign, groups on campuses nationally  are in contact not only with one another but also with people who have professional activism experience. The groups are able to trade ideas and learn what worked and what did not. The Fossil Free Campaign represents a movement that has begun at a local level at universities and institutions such as Georgetown and is slowly gaining momentum  James commented, “what I find so appealing about this particular movement is that this is something that is specific to Georgetown, but is also a nationwide movement…I feel very connected to the big picture.” 

Repost: Typhoon Haiyan: What Really Alarms Filipinos is the Rich World Ignoring Climate Change

The Guardian published an article today about the typhoon and the inability of richer governments to address climate change at a rate that will prevent these disasters.

“Each destructive typhoon season costs us 2% of our GDP, and the reconstruction costs a further 2%, which means we lose nearly 5% of our economy every year to storms. We have received no climate finance to adapt or to prepare ourselves for typhoons and other extreme weather we are now experiencing. We have not seen any money from the rich countries to help us to adapt … We cannot go on like this. It cannot be a way of life that we end up running always from storms,” he said. He later told the assembly: “Climate change negotiations cannot be based on the way we currently measure progress. It is a clear sign of planetary and economic and environmental dysfunction … The whole world, especially developing countries struggling to address poverty and achieve social and human development, confronts these same realities.”

More about the Filipino UN Delegate Hunger Strike, demanding larger steps towards addressing climate change.

The Filipino delegate said that he would keep this up until “a meaningful outcome is in sight”. This includes concrete pledges to fill up the coffers of the Green Climate Fund, as well as progress on a loss and damage mechanism, and “real ambition on climate action”.


Fossil Free Changes Tack, Calls on GUSA

1606366298The Hoya published an article about our upcoming GUSA Senate Resolution.

Although Georgetown’s divestment would not significantly affect fossil fuel companies, James said that the move would still be impactful.

“To [divest] from an institutional point of view, where you have over a billion dollars, that can pack a punch,” James said. “That can pack a big ethical punch as well.”

To Invest in America’s Communities, Divest from Fossil Fuels

GU Fossil Free’s Co-Founder, Sydney Browning, published an op-ed in the Voice last year about why divestment matters to her.

“I’m not encouraging people to swoop in on these affected communities with a cape and save everything. I’m encouraging people to fight in ways they can. I’m a Georgetown student who is pretty removed from the frontlines of environmental degradation. So what can I do? I can fight for Georgetown to divest from these companies that are devastating the people around us. That’s something that students can do, they can hold their universities responsible for their investments. And yes, divestment by itself will not reverse the entirety of injustice inflicted upon the world by fossil fuel companies, but it’s a step. The fight for divestment isn’t just about the fight against the global temperature rising; it’s about fighting for those communities that are facing the threat posed by the fossil fuel industry today.

Divestment isn’t simply withdrawing financial holdings from these companies, it’s withdrawing Georgetown’s investment in the violence and oppression directed at these communities. It’s a tactic, just like pipeline blockades, petitions, giant rallies, and tree-sits. In one of the most pressing justice issues facing us, we have to use all strategies and all steps in order to change. And we can change things. We, as students, can fight and win.”


A Campus Call to Divest from Fossil Fuels

Last year, one of our co-founders, Sydney Browning, gave an interview for the Ignatian Solidarity Network.  Check out the interview below:

3/5/13 – The following is an ISN interview wth Georgetown University student Sydney Browning on her involvement with the University Endowment and Divestment Campaign.

ISN: How’d this all get started?

Sydney: Our campaign is about 2 months old.  It started in January 2013, but we had been planning for some time before. We started by sending a letter to the President of Georgetown, Dr. John DeGioia, to inform him of the campaign and ask for support. We also made a proposal for Georgetown to divest from all fossil fuel and coal companies within 5 years and then reinvest in more socially responsible alternatives. We also reached out to the Socially Responsible Investment Committee to try and see greater transparency about investment and to also have a stronger review of where Georgetown is investing money.

We sent some press releases, hung banners, did dorm storming in order to try and get students to sign on. So far, 1,500 students have signed on.  Our group is hopeful to meet with Dr. DeGioia sometime this spring.  In addition we are working to gain the support of faculty, alumni, and campus groups.  Georgetown University’s College Republicans and College Democrats have already signed on showing their support for our effort. Beyond Georgetown, we are reaching out to other campaigns across the country to become more connected with some of the 200+ divestment campaigns taking place throughout the country right now.

ISN: How did you get involved?

Syndey: I got involved because some of my friends have been involved on other campuses. I was inspired when I saw some campaigns at the SOA Watch Vigil at Fort Benning, Georgia.  I started to build up a core group of others that were interested.  I am very passionate about the environment and student rights on campus and having a say in investment, so this was a way to bring those together.

ISN: Why is this important for it to be a campaign of divestment versus shareholder advocacy?

Sydney: Usually the purpose of shareholder advocacy is to get companies to change their behavior, but this is very difficult when you are working with fossil fuel companies.  They are not going to stop being fossil fuel companies.   Shareholder advocacy would not allow us to work for the significant changes related to global climate change that we hope to see.

ISN: How have you been able to draw students into the effort?

Sydney: We have been talking to students and letting them know that we are out there.  They know what is happening and they want to help and show their support.  It helps to be in DC because there many national gatherings related to climate change that happen here regularly.

ISN: What are your hopes for the movement going forward?

Sydney: I hope the campaign creates greater opportunities for dialogue throughout the Georgetown community and leads to our university becoming a leader in the climate change movement.  More generally speaking, we of course hope to see the slowing of climate change.

ISN: Any message you want to share with students at other Jesuit universities?

Sydney:  We have a special set of values that I admire and want to dedicate my life to, and I think that divestment adheres to those values. In order to adhere to these values, we should look at these companies that are violating human rights and the environment. As students we have a distinct responsibility to fight for divestment.

Repost: The Financial Case for Divestment of Fossil Fuel Companies by Endowment Fiduciaries

The former commissioner of the SEC agrees: Fossil fuel divestment is the right financial choice for fiduciaries. Check out the article.

“Unless large restrictions on carbon emissions are established around the globe, but particularly in the world’s two top emitters, China and the US, scientists predict ocean level rises of three to six feet in this century, triggering massive evacuations. What’s worse, we know scientists systematically understate the case -repeatedly discovering the globe’s climate system is more, not less, sensitive to man-made assault, whose impacts are being experienced at ever-increasing rates.”

GU Fossil Free Seeks Support from GUSA Senate through Resolution

GU Fossil Free is seeking the support of the Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) for our proposal.  Check out the article in the Georgetown Voice about our Senate Resolution.

The ultimate goal is to put enough pressure on the Board of Directors so they have no other choice but to divest from Fossil Fuels. “I would love for Georgetown to be the first university with over a one billion dollar endowment to divest,” James said. “I think it shows huge initiative and honors Georgetown’s commitment to being socially responsible both as a Jesuit institution and not.”