This post has been updated to include a statement from GUFF
In an email to students on Thursday, university President John DeGioia announced that Georgetown’s Board of Directors approved a plan to begin the process of divesting the university’s endowment from fossil fuels. The announcement comes on the same day as students vote on a referendum brought forward by GU Fossil Free (GUFF) urging the school to divest. The announcement included changes to Georgetown’s investment policy.
“Earlier today, as part of our ongoing sustainability efforts, the Board of Directors has directed the University to implement a policy to continue to seek investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and related areas that promote a transition to a more sustainable world; to cease new investments in fossil fuel companies; and to divest from fossil fuel investments over the next decade,” the email read.
Moving forward, Georgetown will invest in clean energy and energy efficient technologies, and will not make any new investments in fossil fuels. The school committed to phasing out public investments in the fossil fuel-based companies within the next five years, and to phase out private investments within the next decade. Fossil fuel-based companies are defined as companies whose primary business is the production and exportation of fossil fuels.
The move comes after extended pressure from students, and a rising divestment movement across the U.S. In early 2019, GUFF released a memo encouraging the school to divest from fossil fuels. In January 2019, Middlebury College announced plans to phase out direct investments in fossil fuels within 15 years, and in September 2019, the University of California fully divested. DeGioia’s email emphasized a rising intensity to the university’s sustainability efforts.
“The work of understanding and responding to the demands of climate change is urgent and complex. It requires our most serious attention,” the email read. “We all share in the responsibility to be caring stewards of the environment and to engage the resources of our tradition and the strengths of our communities in our pursuit of the common good.”
In a press release, the GUFF team thanked the university and those who helped their organization through the years for finally achieving one of their goals. “This decision comes after eight years of dedicated campaigning from GU Fossil Free; our members, past and present, could not be more proud,” the statement reads. “We are thrilled that our university has taken this important step in supporting climate justice, student voices, and financial accountability.”