Letter to the Chairs of the Board of Trustees and its Investment Committee, from Divest Carleton
By The Students of Divest Carleton on January 17, 2020
Dear Mr. Weitz and Mr. Wender:
We were recently heartened to learn that, as of September 30, 2019, Carleton no longer holds any direct public equity stocks in fossil fuel companies.
This marks a significant change in Carleton’s portfolio. Five years ago, Carleton was directly invested in nine major fossil fuel companies, and only one remained on the list in June 2019. We urge the Board of Trustees and its Investment Committee to continue down this encouraging path, taking further steps to distance the College from similar investments, including:
- A commitment not to reinvest in direct fossil fuel holdings.
- A plan for analyzing the fossil fuel holdings in Carleton’s commingled funds and divesting from as many as possible, as quickly as possible.
We have long believed that remaining invested in the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies is both fiscally irresponsible and ethically indefensible. It is also a betrayal of Carleton’s mission statement. To stay beneath the warming limit set by the Paris Agreement of two degrees Celsius, 80 percent of the world’s fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground. Supporting major fossil fuel companies is at odds with the College’s mission to prepare its students for “lives of learning that are broadly rewarding, professionally satisfying, and of service to humanity.”
Such future lives are threatened by an ongoing, increasingly severe climate crisis—especially those of Carleton’s most economically vulnerable students.
As you know, there is widespread support in the Carleton community for divesting the endowment from fossil fuels. Over a thousand students signed a divestment petition and 75 faculty members submitted a letter arguing in favor of divestment. So far there are over 1600 names, including over 1500 living alumni from 68 classes, on the alumni Divest Carleton petition.
Several peer colleges, including Whitman College, Middlebury College and Smith College, have recently decided to divest their endowments from fossil fuels. If Carleton wishes to preserve its “long-standing reputation for leadership in environmental initiatives,” as described by President Poskanzer in the 2011 Climate Action Plan, it is time to take explicit responsibility for the impact of its financial resources. It is time to permanently and fully divest the endowment from fossil fuels.
We hope to hear your response to the Divest Carleton movement soon.
Rebecca Hahn, on behalf of the alumni of Divest Carleton
Tuomas Sivula, on behalf of the students of Divest Carleton
Published in Viewpoint