If you’ve been wondering what this whole fossil fuel divestment movement is all about, tonight is your chance to find out.
This evening at 7:30pm ET, Middlebury College is hosting a panel discussion with 350.org founder Bill McKibben and four other experts to discuss fossil fuel divestment and whether environmental and social concerns should influence investment policies of college and university endowments.
Here’s the livestream:
Since McKibben helped launch the new fossil fuel divestment campaign last November, over 200 campuses have joined the effort. So far, two small colleges, Unity and Hampshire, have agreed to rid their endowments of fossil fuel companies. This December, the Mayor of Seattle also committed to keep city funds out of the fossil fuel industry and encouraged the city pension funds to divest.
At Middlebury, President Ronald Liebowitz announced a formal process to consider divestment this December 4 in an all-campus email to faculty and staff, writing, “I, along with my administrative colleagues and fellow board members, look forward to engaging the community on an issue of great interest and import to the College and its many constituents.”
In his email, President Liebowitz acknowledged that approximately 3.6 percent of the college’s $900 million endowment is invested in fossil fuel companies (roughly $32 million dollars). This is the first time the college has disclosed how much of its endowment is invested in the industry.
The panelists at tonight’s event will include: Charlie Arnowitz ’13, president of the Student Government Association; Ralph Earle, a renewables-focused venture investor and former assistant secretary of environmental affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Alice Handy, founder and president of Investure, the firm that manages a portion of Middlebury’s endowment; Mark Kritzman, the CEO of Windham Capital Management and a senior lecturer in finance at MIT; Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury and founder of 350.org, a global grassroots movement to solve climate change; and Patrick Norton, vice president for finance and treasurer at Middlebury.
Middlebury would be the first college with an endowment of its size to agree to divest from the fossil fuel industry. The move would help pave the way for other schools to make the divest, especially colleges who also use Investure to manage their endowments, including Barnad, Dickinson, Smith, Trinity, and the University of Tulsa.
McKibben founded 350.org with six Middlebury College students in 2007, so the debate at the college has special resonance for the organization. “We came up with the idea for our first national campaign sitting around the dining hall at Middlebury,” said May Boeve, 350.org’s Executive Director (Class of ‘06.5). “It’s great to have come full circle and see Middlebury helping lead this global effort to take on the fossil fuel industry.”