Trustees Divestment Update

Dear Trustee:

We are writing with a brief update on the Divest Carleton movement and the wider divestment movement’s progress over the last few months.

A few weeks ago, we emailed Mr. Weitz and Mr. Wender regarding a change to Carleton’s endowment: the College no longer holds any direct fossil fuel investments. The Carletonian ran our letter in its January 17, 2020, edition. You can read it yourself here:

This is a significant step forward, though we remain concerned that the College has made no commitment not to reinvest in such holdings. We also urge divestment from fossil fuel companies in the commingled funds.

As you may be aware, the fossil fuel divestment movement has been gaining strength. When students and alumni disrupted the Harvard/Yale football game in November, they brought it to the world’s attention. Just last week, the student body presidents of every Big 10 university passed a resolution calling for their schools to divest from fossil fuels, stating that colleges “cannot be truly carbon neutral while investing billions in the fossil fuel industry.” All types of institutions are joining the movement, from Simon Frasier University to faith organizations to the Welsh Assembly, which just divested its pension fund. Altogether, 1181 institutions with managed assets of nearly $14 trillion have committed to divesting from fossil fuels.

This progress has been fueled by a widening realization that these investments are neither environmentally nor financially sustainable. Scientists continue to issue warnings about tipping points and shrinking timelines. In November, the European Investment Bank announced they would cease funding fossil fuel projects at the end of 2021. In December, Goldman Sachs restricted its financing for coal and Arctic oil projects. BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, announced last month that they will limit their investments in coal and will build stronger ESG and sustainable portfolio options. BlackRock’s CEO, Larry Fink, told CEOs, “I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”

The growing threat of climate change and the diminishing prospects of fossil fuel companies will continue to sharpen into focus as time goes by. We will continue to fight for Carleton’s present and future students. We hope you’ll join them and us, and commit to a policy of fossil fuel divestment.

Rebecca Hahn ’09, on behalf of the alumni of Divest Carleton