Opinion: UMN announced fossil fuel divestment a year ago, where are we now?

Students for Climate Justice has five demands for the University of Minnesota to help fight climate change and be a frontrunner in climate justice.

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Image by Sarah Mai

by Students for Climate Justice

The global fossil fuel divestment movement on college and university campuses calls upon institutions to intentionally withdraw their investments from the 200 largest publicly traded fossil fuel companies with the largest carbon reserves (coal, oil and gas), as listed in the Carbon Underground 200. Students at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities have been fighting for divestment for decades. On Sept. 24, 2021, the StarTribune announced the University would be divesting from fossil fuels in the next five to seven years. Yet, in the year since then, we have not heard confirmation from the University itself, and the administration has ignored students’ demands for accountability. This is unacceptable; stakeholders have a vested interest in where their donations, tuition and tax money are invested. The University Office of Investments and Banking and the University of Minnesota Foundation have both a financial and moral responsibility to divest from fossil fuels now!

Below are the five demands that Students for Climate Justice has for the University:

  1. Declare a climate and ecological emergency to demonstrate that the University prioritizes addressing the climate crisis, following the leadership of the City of Minneapolis, which declared a climate emergency in December 2019.

  2. Disclose endowment and investment data and performance in accordance with Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS), join the Intentional Endowments Network and use only investment managers that are Principles of Responsible Investment signatories.

  3. Divest from fossil fuels, which includes all companies listed in the Carbon Underground 200; as a first step, the University should immediately freeze all investments in fossil fuels.

  4. Reinvest in community-controlled funds that increase community empowerment and prosperity, democratize the workplace, drive social equity, promote ecological well-being and resilience and shift trends in production and consumption toward a sustainable future.

  5. Incorporate climate and environmental justice into University-wide curriculum by adding a climate and environmental justice major and changing the Environment liberal education theme to Environmental Justice.

In the coming years, we’re demanding new decisions regarding climate action. We are looking forward to working with University administration and the campus community to make the University more just. The University has always been a frontrunner in many areas, why can’t we be a frontrunner in the fight for climate justice too?

You can show your support for our work by signing on to our demands here. Note that you do not need to be affiliated with the University to sign. You can contact us with questions at [email protected].

Students for Climate Justice at the University of Minnesota was founded in 2019 to fight for a more just University community through systems change.