As another set of uninspiring UN climate negotiations has come to a close in Lima, the first university in the Pacific Islands, the College of the Marshall Islands (CMI), has just voted unanimously to divest from fossil fuel companies.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands comprises over 1,000 small, low-lying islands that are home to almost 70,000 people. With rising tides and floods already submerging their homelands, the Marshallese people have a great deal to teach the world about what will happen if we do not take serious action on climate change.
“We need all of our friends and our colleagues in the Pacific Region and around the world to take note, spread the word and become leaders in this movement to divest from fossil fuels.”
“It is critical that our voices and our actions are taken into account as we move forward in discussions concerning climate change and the formulation of policies that will preserve our islands, our histories, our cultures and our ways of life.
“The Pacific Region has to be a leading voice in raising this awareness and do whatever we can in our own home islands to walk the talk of divestment of fossil fuels and climate change. CMI President Carl Hacker.
As world governments dither over serious action to reduce emissions, those living on the frontline of climate impacts are taking the leadership that the world needs. Despite overwhelming evidence of the damage caused by the fossil fuel industry and despite sustained pressure from student campaigners, many universities in industrialised countries still invest in fossil fuels.
Yet here is a university in one of the most climate change exposed countries in the world, that has contributed the least to the problem, showing real climate leadership by divesting from the industry driving the climate crisis.
We must commend the CMI and make sure it encourages other universities to follow in their footsteps on Global Divestment Day next February, when a wide range of institutions are expected to announce their divestment decisions.
CMI’s decision makes it one of the first colleges in the Pacific Region to divest, following New Zealand’s Victoria University, which committed to divest from fossil fuels in early November, and the Australian National University, which divested from two fossil companies in early October. You can see a list of all global divestment commitments here too.