Divest Fossil Fuel Investments

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 9, 2013

Dear Editor,
    When we invest money, we are showing approval for the entity that we invest in. When we divest, we are showing disapproval. Divestment has been used in the past as a means to effect social and political change. College campuses were on the leading edge of the anti-apartheid divestment movement, and Nelson Mandela acknowledged the impact of campus divestment as a factor in the overthrow of apartheid.
    Today, many college campuses are once again looking to divestment to make a major statement. Fossil fuel companies have five times more oil, coal, and gas in known reserves than can be safely burned in order to keep the planet under 2 degrees Celsius of warming. This means that fossil fuel companies must keep 80% of known reserves underground in order to keep the planet livable.
    This is an urgent situation, and the current political state makes it unlikely that change will come willingly from our government. In our country, corporations have unlimited ability to give politicians money, and since the fossil fuel companies are the most profitable, they have the most political power.
    I represent a student activist group called Fossil Free Texas. We call on the University of Texas at Austin to divest their general endowment fund from the top 200 fossil fuel companies. Many cities and colleges across the country have already made the commitment. Austin should be next. We need to send a message to these companies that we value our planet more than we value their stocks.
Ethan Howley
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