GU Fossil Free delivers divestment proposal to DeGioia

September 4, 2014

Photo: Courtesy of Caroline James

GU Fossil Free delivered the final draft of its 35-page proposal to the office of President DeGioia on Tuesday, initiating what they hope will be a fruitful year of engaging with Georgetown administrators.

Published online Aug. 19, “Divesting Georgetown’s Endowment from Fossil Fuels” consolidates the organization’s arguments against Georgetown’s investment in carbon-based energy companies and calls divestment a “moral imperative.”

“The global poor—already vulnerable in multiple dimension, and often food insecure—face significantly greater peril of displacement, famine, disease, and conflict induced by changing weather patterns,” reads the proposal.

“While the moral argument is our top reason in the proposal, we also understand that the university and the board are going to be very interested in the financial risks,” said Fossil Free member Chloe Lazarus (COL ‘15). “We do not believe the financial risk really exists, and we have studies backing that up … these investments are becoming more risky. It makes sense for Georgetown to move their investments now before the carbon bubble crashes.”

According to Fossil Free’s proposal, an analysis of research papers by the Asset Management Working Group of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Group showed that the consideration of sustainability criteria in investments yielded a statistically significant improvement in performance.

According to Caitlin Meagher (SFS ‘17), while many professors and staff members are sympathetic towards GU Fossil Free’s cause, newer, untenured professors are concerned about speaking out against Georgetown.

“We have the support of a lot of faculty members, but many that we talked to are hesitant to take a stand against their employer,” said Meagher.

“This isn’t meant to be a political issue,” said Lazarus. “This is a moral issue. If Georgetown is founded on Jesuit and Catholic values, I don’t think there should be a problem with professors noticing the hypocrisy of a school and standing against it.”

Both Meagher and Lazarus pointed out that Georgetown has continued to advance its environmental sustainability efforts while at the same time investing in fossil fuel companies, which is an issue that Fossil Free’s proposal addresses at length.

“DeGioia has said in the past that he wants to make Georgetown more sustainable,” said Meagher. “We say in the proposal that it doesn’t make sense for Georgetown to be moving so far one way and trying to cut our carbon emissions and bring in all the water filling stations, and at the same time be profiting from fossil fuels.”


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