BY ISN STAFF | September 26, 2018
Seattle University announced last week that its Board of Trustees has voted to adopt a pair of recommendations to divest the university’s $230 million endowment from fossil fuels over the next five years.Divestment will take place in two phases. By the end of 2020, the school commits to a 50 percent reduction in “exposure to companies owning fossil fuel reserves in the marketable portion of the endowment portfolio.” Then, by June 20, 2023, school commits to full divestment of “the marketable portion of the endowment from any investments in companies owning fossil fuel reserves.”
“The moral imperative for action is clear,” says Seattle University President Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J., in a university statement. “By taking this step we are acting boldly and making an important statement. We join with others also at the forefront of the growing divestment movement and hope our action encourages more to do the same. Together, we can amplify our collective voice and accelerate the transition to clean, fossil-free energy sources.”
“As a Jesuit and Catholic university, Seattle University has a special obligation to address the unfolding climate change crisis,” says Sundborg. “In his encyclical Laudato Si’, or Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis calls us to view this as a social and ecological issue of grave urgency that is connected to all around us and that has especially devastating consequences for society’s most vulnerable.”
The divestment announcement is the latest action as the university engages in long-term work toward campus sustainability. The divestment recommendations are the work of the university’s Socially Responsible Investments (SRI) Advisory Working Group—faculty, staff, students, and trustees who have a background or interest in social responsibility and ethics as applied to investment decisions.