By Nic Koski, Columnist
After exploring TU’s campus, you might notice the solar panels, green roofs, and the alternative transportation programs, among other environmental initiatives. Something less noticeable is the fact that our university invests millions of dollars in the fossil fuel industry. If TU is truly committed to sustainability and environmental health, then we need to stop pouring gas on the fire and divest from fossil fuels.
Speaking of fire, major forests in places such as South America, Central Africa, and Siberia are currently up in flames during a year of intensifying wildfires and increasing temperatures around the globe. We know that our current climate crisis is only resulting in more ecological disasters like these and the burning of fossil fuels is the major driver of this crisis. By investing in fossil fuel companies, we give financial and social support to an industry that is literally burning down our home.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic that we are at least reducing our fossil fuel consumption and switching over to renewable energy at TU. Those efforts are much needed if we are to build a sustainable future. But how can we say we are prioritizing the planet while simultaneously profiting from its destruction? TU needs to take a stronger stance against the fossil fuel industry to truly adhere to our values.
Moreover, free-market fixes and individual action simply do not go far enough. These sorts of approaches often fail to challenge the status quo and the source of our ecological crisis. Divesting from fossil fuels, on the other hand, reframes the issue by naming the source of the problem and calling for more radical change that would completely challenge fossil fuel extraction and production altogether. And at the institutional level, our university can use its position of power to call attention to the fossil fuel industry and remove its social license by which it continues to operate. In fact, some major fossil fuel companies have already acknowledged the major impact of fossil fuel divestment on their business.
Divesting from fossil fuels and reinvesting in green technologies is also a smart financial move. The long-term economic consequences of burning fossil fuels are fairly obvious. Anthropogenic climate change has severe costs for agriculture, infrastructure, health, ecosystems, and human lives. But even in the short-term, recent studies by economists have shown that fossil-free investment portfolios actually outperform those with fossil fuel assets.
For these reasons, fossil fuel divestment makes sense for TU. While some efforts have been made, the administration can do more to prevent our college degreed from being soiled with fossil fuels.