As the effort to get universities to stop investing in the top 200 oil, gas, and coal companies continues, a group of undergraduate and graduate students are spearheading the movement at the UW.
Divest UW joined a movement that has spread to more than 300 colleges and universities in the United States, urging educational institutions to freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies and to divest from current holdings.
Currently, the UW has an endowment of about $2.2 billion, of which about 2 percent, goes into the fossil fuel industry.
“This school prides itself on sustainability … and yet, hidden in the background, we’re investing in fossil fuel companies,” said senior Sarah Sanborn, president of the Student Association of Green Environments (SAGE), one of the first RSOs to endorse the campaign. “It’s really hypocritical of us. It’s almost like we’re putting on a facade of sustainability, but, in reality, we’re unsustainable.”
Junior Sarra Tekola, an environmental science and resource management major, said she recently joined the campaign in efforts to play a part in revoking the fossil fuel industry’s social influence.
“We can emit 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below the 2 degree Celsius of warming limit set by the U.N.,” Tekola said. “But, if we use up the amount currently in the fossil fuel reserves, it would result in the emission of 2,795 gigatons — five times the safe amount.”
Tekola said simply lobbying for environmental sustainability is not enough to prevent severe consequences.