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We Are 9 to encourage fossil fuel divestment

| Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Wednesday afternoon, the We Are 9 environmental campaign will present a petition with more than 1,000 signatures calling for Notre Dame to divest from fossil fuels to University President Fr. John Jenkins.

“Divestment means removing investments from certain companies, in this case fossil fuel companies,” freshman Kathleen Rocks said.

Rocks is involved in We Are 9, which began in the fall of 2013 and, according to its website, is a “sustainability movement that integrates the voices of the entire Notre Dame community, including undergraduate students, faculty, graduate students and clergy.”

“As most students know, Notre Dame has a significant endowment, worth about 9.8 billion,” Rocks said. “Somewhere between 12 and 20 percent of that endowment is invested in fossil fuels companies — anything from shale, fracking, oil to natural gas corporations.

“We’re asking Fr. Jenkins and the investment office to reinvest the money currently invested in fossil fuel companies into sustainable and green companies.”

At 4:30 p.m., the group will assemble outside the Main Building and then proceed to Jenkins’s office to deliver the petitions.

“As privileged members of society here at Notre Dame, we have been given much and therefore much is expected of us,” We Are 9 leader, senior Garrett Blad said. “This is a small way to show President Jenkins the concern of the Notre Dame community.

“The We Are 9 campaign is a climate justice movement. Climate change is disproportionately harming poor, indigenous and minority communities. We have seen this in natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan and with all of the droughts, floods, wildfires and diseases that are happening right now across the globe,” Blad said.

We Are 9 takes its name from the statistic predicting approximately nine billion people will live on Earth by 2050.

“Climate change is a matter of social justice and human rights, because those who are most adversely affected by environmental degradation are those who are already most poor and vulnerable — those who are least responsible for over-consumption and pollution,” senior Katie Otterbeck said.

Working closely with Blad, Otterbeck helped launch the We Are 9 campaign and has continued pursuing a variety of goals over the past several months.

“I think that some people have a deeper sense of biophilia instilled in them naturally than others do, and for me this love of and respect for the natural world has translated into environmental advocacy … acknowledging that the disastrous effects of global warming on all earth’s precious species and ecosystems can be stopped if we work together,” Otterbeck said.

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About Rachel O'Grady

Rachel O'Grady is a senior Political Science major living in Ryan Hall and is currently serving as an Assistant Managing Editor. Hailing from Chicago (actual Chicago, not the suburbs) she's been a Cubs fan since birth.

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