What future will we leave our students?
Students demand a future
Our climate is in crisis. Everyday we hear of dangerous weather events caused by global warming. Hurricanes, wildfires, extreme heat and rising oceans are creating havoc with our world and bringing death and destruction. The primary cause of global warming is the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) which release greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report released in August 2021, "Climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying, and some trends are now irreversible." UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the Working Group's report was nothing less than "a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable".
Here in New York, over 40 people were killed due to flooding in the New York City area due to Hurricane Ida. Hurricanes Sandy and Irene devastated communities in New York City and upstate. Sandy is estimated to have caused 125 deaths and cost $62 billion in damages. This is only the beginning.
Fossil fuel investments are destroying our pension
Energy was the worst performing sector of the S&P in 2018 and 2019. Fossil fuel stocks are lagging the rest of the economy and are estimated to have lost the NYSTRS pension billions of dollars.
New York's landmark climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires New York to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and to net zero by 2050. Investing in a dying industry is like throwing money down the drain.
Divestment stigmatizes the fossil fuel industry and makes it harder for them to finance exploration and expansion projects. The New York State Common Retirement Fund and three of New York City's retirements including the NYC teacher's retirement fund are currently divesting.
Worldwide colleges, religious institutions and countries have committed to divest more than $11 trillion from fossil fuels. The list includes the World Council of Churches, the Republic of Ireland, the California Teacher's Retirement System, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, Columbia, Cornell, Syracuse, Stanford and Yale Universities. See the full list here.