Cornell Students Urge Trustees to Divest from Fossil Fuels (PRESS RELEASE)

Press Contact:  Julia Fiore 845-240-8288


KyotoNOW! joins thirty campuses in national divestment campaign

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY — KyotoNOW!, Cornell University’s student climate action organization, is urging Cornell’s Board of Trustees to divest the university’s endowment from the fossil fuel industry to meet Cornell’s commitment to sustainability.

KyotoNOW! is urging the university to divest fully from all fossil fuels by 2020. According to Madeline Tingle Cornell ‘16, “It is critical that the trustees begin this transition to more responsible investments now to maintain the endowment’s long-term financial sustainability and to reflect Cornell’s commitments to carbon neutrality.” The endowment is intended to provide support for the university’s educational mission, which includes public service and responsible stewardship.

Fossil fuels are becoming increasingly expensive to extract and are encountering widespread public resistance, while renewable industries such as wind and solar energy have steadily grown. “Cornell needs to plan for a sustainable endowment that does not include investing in the dying and increasingly destructive fossil fuel industry,” said KyotoNOW! Treasurer Dennis Fox.

Cornell’s Climate Action Plan commits the university to campus carbon neutrality by 2050, which does not account for the investments in the fossil fuel industry through the university endowment. Cornell’s endowment represents over $5 billion which is managed by the university’s Board of Trustees. Climate scientists estimate that the next five years represent a quickly closing window to keep global climate change below a 2 degree celsius increase in global temperature, above which the impacts of climate change become significantly worse.

KyotoNOW! is joining over 30 campuses nationwide to call for fossil fuel divestment. On October 17th, Hampshire College in Amherst, MA became the first university to commit to full fossil fuel divestment. Cornell has a history of divestment prompted by student demands. In 1986, after a number of sit-ins Cornell agreed to adopt a policy of selective divestment from businesses tied to the South African apartheid regime. KyotoNOW! member Jake Lieby Cornell ‘16 states “Divestment is an incredibly powerful tool that helped put an end to apartheid 30 years ago. Students have the power and the responsibility to ensure our endowment is invested according to our values again today.”

With Cornell’s Trustees on campus this weekend, KyotoNOW! is hoping to make their concerns known. KyotoNOW! member Julia Fiore Cornell ‘13 stated, “We are confident that the trustees understand the threat climate change poses to our generation and will take action to invest in our future.”

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