Letter to the Editor: Petition to divest and reinvest the University’s endowment 

We are pleased the University has formed the Socially Responsible Investing Working Group, a necessary step to align the endowment with our mission. We recognize the positive steps forward toward transparency and reinvestment with the endowment in the draft Sustainability Plan. Yet, the Sustainability Plan must go further to lay out a clear timetable and protocol for fossil fuel divestment, while detailing how to reinvest those funds for a transition to a just, sustainable future. 

In the spirit of building a better University, we call on University administrators and the Working Group to do the following by April 22, 2020: 

  1. Disclose the specific current direct investments in companies whose primary business activity is involved in the extraction, transportation, refinement, combustion, or protection of oil, coal and natural gas resources;
  2. Disclose which indirect investment funds have any companies whose primary business activity is involved in the extraction, transportation, refinement, combustion, or protection of oil, coal, and natural gas resources. Disclose what percentage of all total indirect investments are in this sector. 
  3. Freeze any new direct or indirect investments in those companies. Direct your investment management firms and fund managers to permanently implement a negative screen on those companies.
  1. Commit to phasing out existing direct investments in those companies within 1 year and phasing out existing indirect investments in those companies within 3 years; 
  2. Commit to assessing the risks climate change poses to individual investments and the endowment portfolio as a whole. Commit to change investment practices to reduce climate risks and take advantage of opportunities associated with climate change, for instance, investing in high-performing industries in the renewable energy space.
  1. Direct the student-managed investment fund to follow #3 to #5 above. 
  2. Commit to positively screen for investments involving a community mission, such as community banks, community land trusts, cooperatives, minority-serving institutions, minority-owned businesses, community-based funds, funds that support a just transition for workers in the energy industry, etc. These companies should not be those who have made considerable money in the fossil fuel sector. Allocate a percentage of your overall endowment to be reinvested into community funds (e.g. 1 percent); and
  1. Make these changes and any other new investments transparent and committal by including language on this in the Bucknell’s investments policy and Sustainability Plan. 

Why it is Important 

  1. Fossil fuels are risky investments. Fiduciaries at leading institutions of higher education have agreed endowments are better served by not investing in fossil fuels. We believe such actions on behalf of our University will be a sound decision for our institution’s financial portfolio. 
  2. Divestment advances the University’s commitment to the common good. Climate change is accelerating. In this last year alone our country and countries around the globe experienced record-breaking heat, droughts, and hurricanes, which impacted hundreds of thousands of people and cost hundreds of billions of dollars. As students with the privilege to attend this institution whose futures depend on a livable planet, we refuse to benefit from profits on investments in the very companies that have done so much to actively contribute to this climate crisis.
  1. Divestment advances the University’s commitment to justice. Given that current climate hazards are borne disproportionately by low-income communities, communities of color, and formerly colonized communities, divestment is not only a prudent fiduciary responsibility but a moral responsibility. 
  2. Reinvestment in profitable sustainable industries is a triple-win for environmental quality, equity, and financial prudence. Investing divested funds in clean, renewable technologies and portfolios allows the University to live out its strategic plan: proactively shape a sustainable, just, and prosperous world while ensuring financial sustainability. 

To view the petition and add your name, visit tinyurl.com/reinvestbucknell 

– Green New Deal Lewisburg

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