Logo of the University of Chicago student group, 'Stop Funding Climate Change'. It reads, 'It's time for UChicago to divest rom fossil fuels". Graphic: SFCC

By Suzanne Goldenberg
22 February 2016

(Guardian) – More than 250 professors at the University of Chicago have called on the school to fight climate change by ridding itself of fossil fuel holdings – a gesture that would have exceptional resonance from the former home of Barack Obama and alma mater of current presidential contender Bernie Sanders.

In a symbolic show of solidarity with student activists, professors urged the elite private university to purge its $7.6bn endowment of coal, oil, and gas companies, citing the “universal and existential” threat posed by climate change.

The petition, which was made available to the Guardian, was endorsed by professors from more than 50 departments, in all representing about 10% of faculty.

“We believe that profiting from these industries conflicts with the paramount social value of avoiding significant and permanent degradation of our planet that, if left unchecked, will adversely affect all of us, personally and as an institution,” the petition said.

Student leaders of the Stop Funding Climate Change campaign have been pressing the university to dump its fossil fuel holdings as part of the rapidly growing divestment movement.

Robert Zimmer, the university’s president, has said divestment is “unlikely”, citing the university’s tradition of political neutrality.

But campaigners hope that faculty support will notch up the pressure. “We wanted to let the undergraduates realize that it is not just a stone wall,” said Trevor Price, an ecologist who signed the petition.

The university is closely associated with two leading climate champions. Obama taught at the law school before entering politics, and chose the University of Chicago as the site for his presidential library. Sanders has also pushed for climate change legislation, and recently called global warming the greatest current threat to US national security. [more]

University of Chicago professors urge fossil fuel divestment over climate change fears



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