Student-led Climate Victory as Stanford Divests from Coal
Student climate activists at Stanford University declared a sizeable, though not ultimate, victory on Tuesday after the prominent university’s board of trustees announced it would wholly divest the school’s holdings in the coal industry.
“Stanford’s decision is a clear testament to the power of the student movement for divestment and the broader movement to combat climate change.” —Fossil Free Stanford
“Stanford University will not make direct investments of endowment funds in publicly traded companies whose principal business is the mining of coal for use in energy generation,” the Stanford Board of Trustees declared in a statement.
“Stanford has a responsibility as a global citizen to promote sustainability for our planet,” said university President John Hennessy alongside the announcement. “The university’s review has concluded that coal is one of the most carbon-intensive methods of energy generation and that other sources can be readily substituted for it. Moving away from coal in the investment context is a small, but constructive, step while work continues, at Stanford and elsewhere, to develop broadly viable sustainable energy solutions for the future.”
In response, Fossil Free Stanford, the on-campus student group that has been calling on the university to fully divest from the fossil fuel industry, said the announcement is “a groundbreaking victory” for the climate movement. “Stanford’s decision is a clear testament to the power of the student movement for divestment and the broader movement to combat climate change,” the group said.
“Now that one of the biggest endowments on earth has acknowledged that it can’t keep investing in climate change, others can follow,” said Jay Carmona, a national organizer with 350.org, which helped launch the student-led divestment movement less than two years ago. “As Stanford students have said, this is a call to other college and university administrators across the nation to begin the divestment process in order to turn the tide on climate change. We’re looking forward to the day Stanford builds on this step and fully divests from fossil fuels.”
“Stanford, on the edge of Silicon Valley, is at the forefront of the 21st century economy; it’s very fitting, then, that they’ve chosen to cut their ties to the 18th century technology of digging up black rocks and burning them.” —Bill McKibben, 350.org
And Bill McKibben, the group’s co-founder and lead spokesperson, added: “Stanford, on the edge of Silicon Valley, is at the forefront of the 21st century economy; it’s very fitting, then, that they’ve chosen to cut their ties to the 18th century technology of digging up black rocks and burning them. Since it’s a global institution it knows the havoc that climate change creates around our planet; other forward-looking and internationally-minded institutions will follow I’m sure.”
According to the Stanford Daily:
The students at Fossil Fuel Stanford said the decision is a “powerful illustration that America is waking up to the reality that continued large-scale combustion of coal is incompatible with a sustainable future.”
The group credited anti-coal activists all over the country for setting the stage for their victory and also acknowledge that the larger fight against the fossil fuel industry remains.
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