Often people feel disillusioned by climate change because they believe the issue is too big, and the culprits too abstract for their individual actions to matter. However, this should no longer be the case. The fossil fuel industry is the obvious climate antagonist and the means of combating this industry is increasingly clear and concrete.
Every country in the world has agreed that in order to maintain a livable climate, we must keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius. The science is clear that in order to do this we will need to keep 80 percent of the fossil fuel industry’s known holdings in the ground. As a result, we must win the battle to strand the fossil fuel industry’s assets. An impassioned and widespread divestment movement is the best way to achieve this, and you can be an integral part of this movement — the most important social and environmental justice movement in history — right here on campus.
For UNM students, faculty and alumni, the most immediate and effective way to fight for climate justice is to make UNM divest approximately 10 percent of its nearly $360 million endowment that it currently has invested in the fossil fuel industry. At the UNM Board of Regents’ meeting on April 8, 350 New Mexico will demand that UNM: 1) immediately freeze new fossil fuel investments and 2) commit to full fossil fuel divestment of their endowment portfolios within 5 years.
At the meeting we will also deliver to the Regents a letter signed by seven New Mexico legislators supporting our divestment demands. These demands are also widely supported on campus, as evidence of 2,500 signatures we have collected on our divestment petition.
The UNM divestment campaign for 350 is only one part of a vast and diverse movement. Nationally, there are 500 campaigns rallying college campuses, church congregations and other institutions, as well as municipalities, against the fossil-fuel industry. Recently, San Francisco State University, the City of Seattle and the United Church of Christ each committed to divesting from fossil fuels. More locally, the City of Santa Fe and The Santa Fe Art Institute are also going fossil-free. These institutions are not simply acting altruistically but also in their own self-interest. Considering that energy funds have underperformed by 50 percent over the past five years, divestment makes good economic as well as moral sense.
We call on all students, faculty, staff and alumni to support our divestment demands by attending the Board of Regents’ meeting on Tuesday, April 8 at 9am in SUB Ballroom C. You are also invited to attend our next 350 New Mexico meeting on April 21 at 5 p.m. in the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice. For more information on 350’s national divestment campaign and the new math of global warming, see 350’s “Do the Math” video online.
UNM instructor and member of 350 New Mexico