Divest U.Va. holds political education event on fossil fuel divestment – The Cavalier Daily


Divest U.Va. hosted a political education event pushing the University to withdraw its investments within the fossil fuel business Thursday at 7 p.m. in Nau Hall 101. The event featured a panel dialogue of professors, in addition to displays from pupil leaders who highlighted the connection between divesting from fossil fuels and environmental justice.

Divest U.Va. is a pupil group that advocates for the University to utterly take away its investments from fossil fuels. Core organizations making up the coalition additionally embody Young Democratic Socialists at U.Va.’s Ecosocialists, Student Council’s sustainability committee, the Environmental Justice Collective and University Democrats, who’re partaking in comparable advocacy efforts. 

The event follows Divest U.Va.’s launch of a petition Oct. 8 outlining calls for directed on the University Board of Visitors and the University’s Investment Management Company’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility. The petition underscores the University’s direct contribution to carbon emissions by persevering with its funding within the fossil fuel business and calls for that the University utterly withdraw funding that helps fossil fuel corporations by Dec. 21, 2022.

The event’s school panel included Environmental Studies Prof. Deborah Lawrence, Ethics Prof. Willis Jenkins and Architecture Prof. Phoebe Chrisman. The panel started with a dialogue of the connection between fossil fuels and environmental justice, highlighting the disproportionate hurt of local weather change on poor communities and communities of colour, each within the U.S. and globally. 

Lawrence defined how fossil fuels put carbon dioxide into the ambiance, thereby “polluting the air” and contributing to local weather change — nonetheless, additionally they have a societal impact. 

“[Fossil fuels] disproportionately impacts poor and marginalized communities,” Lawrence stated. “[There is] a direct connection between fossil fuels and disproportionate impacts.”

Panelists mentioned how the impacts of local weather change — together with rising sea ranges, excessive warmth and intensifying pure disasters — have extra dangerous results for marginalized communities, together with poor communities and communities of colour, who’re much less geared up to arrange for and reply to local weather-associated disasters.

“Adapting to climate change at the individual level, family level, community level, depends on what resources you have,” Jenkins stated. 

In response to an viewers query concerning the significance of endowment disclosure by the University, Jenkins affirmed that there ought to be transparency in UVICMO’s investments.

“The holding of an endowment that [is] held for common good should be reasonably transparent so that there can be meaningful oversight or at least public comment,” Jenkins stated. 

The University’s $14.5 billion endowment is a fund composed of philanthropic donations to assist University operations. It stands among the many 20 largest of all schools and universities within the U.S. and the fifth largest of public establishments, in accordance with UVIMCO’s 2021 annual report. 10 % of this endowment is at the moment invested in “real assets,” which incorporates fossil fuel corporations in addition to retail and hospitality corporations. 

Jenkins steered the University can study from its delayed response to its historical past of being based and constructed by the work of enslaved laborers. As the University is simply lately starting to acknowledge this historical past and take into consideration reparative responses, there’s now a possibility for a extra preemptive response towards the local weather disaster and its environmental injustices, Jenkis stated.

“We don’t want, a century from now, to also be doing acknowledgement and reparative work for this,” Jenkins stated. “We can learn from, and directly connect to our current reckoning with the structural white supremacy within which this university was built, with the nascent reckoning, with the fossil fuel infrastructure and its connection to the climate crisis.”  

The panel additionally mentioned that an vital purpose for divestment is the illegitimacy of fossil fuel corporations. Jenkins emphasised {that a} major argument for divestment is that investing in an organization is an implicit recognition of the corporate as a official enterprise and that many fossil fuel corporations are not official companies however relatively firms who’ve enacted crimes towards humanity. 

“Now, [fossil fuel companies are] entrapping us in a whole new set of ways, leading us to climate crisis, and the largest emitters have also undertaken disinformation campaigns,” Jenkins stated. “They actively try to suppress political and cultural efforts to understand the crisis and have reasonable political debates.” 

The University established an Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility UVIMCO in spring of 2021 after Divest U.Va. leaders met with Kristina Alimard, chief operation officer of UVIMCO. The ACIR incorporates a pupil and alumni consultant, in addition to seven members designated by UVIMCO. The committee makes suggestions to UVIMCO.

Divest U.Va. leaders famous that members of ACIR haven’t but issued any formal suggestions to UVIMCO and known as for the committee to open their conferences for public remark and launch public transcripts. 

Leaders ended the event with an summary of the group and its marketing campaign for divestment. 

“In the past few years, U.Va. has made large commitments to the environment, in a new sustainability plan, which includes being carbon-neutral by 2030 and fossil-fuel-free by 2050,” third-12 months College pupil Katherine Thomas stated . “Because of its investments, U.Va. is currently profiting from fossil fuel use, which makes their commitments feel performative and misleading.”