Tue December 4, 2012
Climate Change Activists Demand UW Drop Fossil Fuel Investments
UW-Madison climate change activists are asking for a one on one conversation with the president of the UW Foundation to discuss eliminating fossil fuels investments from the foundation's portfolio.
A group of about 30 students, faculty and alumni delivered petitions with more than 1,200 signatures to the UW Foundation offices in Madison Monday calling for a complete divestment of the foundation's fossil fuel investments. UW undergraduate Kevin Mauer heads the group Climate Action 350-UW. He says about 20 percent of the foundation’s current $2.7 billion endowment is invested in fossil fuel industries. He says his group isn't asking the foundation re-invest those funds in renewable energy industries, "We understand that they have a fiduciary responsibility to make as much profit as possible but this is a particular investment that we believe is socially irresponsible. We believe they should continue to practice their fiduciary responsibility as best they can, just without investment in fossil fuels."
Mauer's group delivered the petition to the foundation's vice president of legal affairs Russ Howes who confirmed that the foundation does have significant fossil fuel investments, "We invest to come extent in some index funds, so index funds are going to buy everything that is in the index. And to the extent that there is exposure to oil or gas within an index, yes we are currently invested in it."
Howe agreed to deliver the groups petitions to Foundation President Michael Knetter. The divestment efforts at UW are part of a nationwide effort to get the nation's leading universities to divest from fossil fuel industries. The group plans a teach-in later this week to raise awareness about the impact of fossil fuel consumption on global warming.