Alumni Letter of Support

October 9, 2015

GU Fossil Free is proud and excited to circulate a letter written by a Georgetown University alumnus calling Georgetown University to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies based on carbon reserves. After engaging with alumni over the years, it is time to show the collective support. Due to the nature of some alumni employment, we understand if you may want to show your support, but cannot disclose your name. Below we have listed several options for alumni when signing. If you would like to sign, please fill out this google form. If you have any question, concerns, or ideas please email Juliette Leader at julietteleader@gmail.com Feel free to share this letter with interested alumni so that they can sign and help us take one step closer to divestment!

Options for Signing:

  1. Sign with name, graduating year & school, and place of employment
  2. Sign with name only
  3. Sign anonymously (We will simply put your name on a private tally and only display the total number of anonymous signatories)

October 9, 2015

We, the Alumni of Georgetown University, write this open letter to express our support for Divestment,

We, the alumni of Georgetown University, respectfully ask the Board of Directors to divest the University’s endowment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies based on carbon reserves. As an institution committed to educating the whole person in order to improve the world for future generations, Georgetown has a moral imperative to divest.

The fossil fuel industry is responsible for 65 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Science has firmly established that greenhouse gases cause global temperatures to increase. Global average surface temperatures have risen 1.7°F since 1900, and are predicted to rise as much as an additional 11°F by 2100. These abrupt changes have already resulted in more severe and frequent heat waves, storms, droughts, and floods.

The question at hand is not if human life will be impacted by climate change, but by how much. Already in the past 20 years spruce bark beetles have chewed through 4 million acres of Alaska’s spruce trees due to an unnatural increase in summer weather.[1] Hardships are expected to first fall on the already most disadvantaged. However, climate change will touch everyone no matter their income, race, our country of origin in significant and often tragic ways. Even under relatively optimistic scenarios, we can expect an increase of summer days from 60 to 150 in the US southeast and southwest regions by the end of the century. In addition to this, every 2-degree Fahrenheit increase will lead to 200% – 400% increases in the area burned by wildfires in the western US.[2] These are just two of a countless number of tragedies that will befall Earth if we continue on choose short-term profit over nature. The degree to which the climate changes, and the scale of its impact on life on this planet, is dependent upon the actions humanity takes in the coming years.

We believe divestment is a moral imperative for Georgetown regardless of the financial impacts for fossil fuels. However, we are far from convinced that these companies will perform well long term – and they have no incentive to become truly sustainable. However, regardless of the fossil fuel industry’s practices, the renewable energy sector has rapidly increased jobs and grown in the past decade. In 2013, 143,000 solar jobs were produced with 24,000 additional jobs also announced. Additionally, in 2014 the solar industry created 50% more jobs than oil and natural gas industries.[3]

More and more of our energy is coming from renewables, and this trend will continue as renewables outprice fossil energy in more markets. In 2015 China invested $83.3 billion in renewable energies while the US invested $38.3 billion. However, even with this increased investment in renewables, the fact remains that the chance of limiting the global temperature increase less than two degrees is highly unlikely.[4] When renewable adoption reaches a tipping point, fossil fuel companies will begin an inexorable decline. If history is any indication, many of the best investment managers will miss this tipping point and hold on too long. But just like these investors, by divesting Georgetown can seize the opportunity to truly take a moral stand against the fossil fuel industry. By divesting, and denouncing such an ethically reprehensible industry Georgetown will be upholding its Jesuit and Catholic moral values.

In closing, we would like to see this University, its students, alumni, faculty, staff and all life on this planet thrive in the 21st century and beyond. However this thriving does not coincide with an indefinite reliance on fossil fuels. The decision to divest will not be easy, and in many ways is mired in uncertainty. But the one thing that is certain is the moral imperative for us to divest. By divesting, we stand for those who cannot stand for themselves and protect an Earth that is currently being silenced. For this reason Georgetown can and must take the lead in moving us away from fossil fuel dependence and that begins with divesting and helping to shift the dialogue towards true sustainability.

Sincerely,

Alumni of Georgetown University

Anonymous Tally: 1

Alumni Signatures

1. Daniel Dylewsky, COL’15

2. Patricia Elena Cipollitti, SFS’15, Currently employed at Alliance for Fair Food in Immokalee, FL

3. Jonathan Cohn, COL’10, Currently employed at Tellus Institute

4. Bridget Kapinus, SFS’10

5. Carter Lavin, SFS’10

6. Maggie Curme Howe, SFS’10

7. Mara Schechter, COL’11

8. Michael Durante Jr., MSB’10

 


[1] http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/gw-effects/

[2] http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/basics/facts.html

[3] http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/01/15/3611522/solar-jobs-report-2014/

[4]http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/03/31/renewable-energy-is-growing-very-very-fast-its-just-still-not-fast-enough/

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