FFY Rallies and Sets Deadline

BY APRIL 1

On March 5, we rallied to ask the Yale administration to make a choice. The decision by the Yale Corporation not to divest from fossil fuel companies not only fails to address the scale of climate change, but also ignores the ways the fossil fuel industry actively works against the climate solutions that students need and ruins the lives of those who live by fossil fuel production, from mountaintop removal, oil pipe explosions, fracking contamination, and more. Though we sit in a place of privilege, our actions and our investments have consequences around the world. We must be aware of this and realize that sustainability is not enough to address these grave social harms inherent to this industry.

Despite all this, we have faith that Yale can these concerns. To do this, we believe that Yale must account for the harms that its investments support.

We need to know: Whose side is the Yale Corporation on? The side of the students whose futures are at risk and the communities who live the injustices of this industry? Or the side of an industry and business model that profits from exploitation and destruction? We must be clear: if Yale fails to divest from fossil fuel companies, it is not just a continuation of the status quo – it is a clear choice that profits matter more than ethics and student voice.

Our ask was this: By April 1, 2015, we demand that the Yale administration present our community with a plan of action, which will detail how Yale plans to change its investment policy to address the multiple injustices created by the fossil fuel industry. We suggest fossil fuel divestment as a first step in this process.

Read the full letter that Fossil Free Yale delivered to President Salovey and the Yale Corporation:

Dear President Salovey,

As you stated in August, climate change is one of the greatest issues of our time. But the terrible effects of a warming planet represent only part of the grave social injury caused by the fossil fuel industry. To see these impacts, you have to look no further than Bridgeport, where pollution from the coal power plant has caused asthma rates to skyrocket.  Fossil fuel companies harm wherever they operate, when they blow off the tops of mountains to remove coal, when fracking wells leak and pollute water sources, or when oil pipes burst and spill over vast swathes of land or sea.  Inherent to the business model of the fossil fuel industry is exploitation of and general disregard for the communities who live nearby. These practices inflict a direct social injury and cannot be ignored.

The sustainability plan that you presented in August does not account for nor can it correct these direct social harms. Sustainability initiatives at Yale fail to recognize that this is a justice issue as much as it is an environmental issue. Greening our campus does as little for the former fisherman in Louisiana whose shrimp were coated and killed after the BP spill as it does for the former rice farmer in Bangladesh whose patties are too salty to farm now that sea levels have begun to rise. Yale cannot shield its gaze from the reality that the practices of the fossil fuel industry are causing a global catastrophe, the first victims of which are always the poor, people of color, citizens of developing nations, and indigenous communities. Though we sit in a place of privilege, our actions and our investments have consequences around the world. Sustainability is not enough.

Despite all this, we have faith that Yale will make a plan to address these concerns. To do this, we believe that Yale must account for the harms that its investments support.

We want to know: Whose side are you on? The side of the students whose futures are at risk and the communities who live the injustices of this industry? Or the side of an industry and business model that profits from exploitation and destruction? We must be clear: if Yale fails to divest from fossil fuel companies, it is not just a continuation of the status quo – it is a clear choice that profits matter more than ethics and student voice.

By April 1, 2015, we demand that the Yale administration present our community with a plan of action, which will detail how Yale plans to change its investment policy to address the multiple injustices created by the fossil fuel industry. We suggest fossil fuel divestment as a first step in this process, and have attached our specific proposal. We eagerly await your response.

Sincerely,

The students of Fossil Free Yale

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