Notre Dame: stop investing in fossil fuel companies
Letter to the Editor | Monday, November 20, 2017
This past June 1, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. will pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, agreed to by Barack Obama in 2015. The Paris Climate Accord was an unprecedented international agreement in which the U.S., along with dozens of other countries, pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep global temperatures below two degrees celsius warming from pre-industrial levels. Obama agreed to reduce U.S. emissions by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. The U.S. will no longer follow that agreement, as the U.S. is the only countries not to agree to the accord.
This lack of courageous leadership has made it more evident than ever that individual action is needed in order to stem climate change. In response, mayors and governors across the country have stepped up and vowed to uphold the United States’ agreement at the Paris Climate Accord. New York governor Andrew Cuomo leads the United States Climate Alliance, a group of 14 governors pledging to uphold the agreement, while New York City’s mayor Michael Bloomberg created the Climate Mayors, a similar coalition consisting of almost 400 mayors. Organizations and businesses across the nation are taking drastic action to fight climate change. In this spirit, on October 4, 40 Catholic institutions celebrated the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi by announcing that they would divest from fossil fuel companies, joining at least 20 others that had previously done so. As a Catholic and moral leader, the University of Notre Dame should join these institutions by divesting from fossil fuel companies.
By investing endowment funds in fossil fuel companies, Notre Dame is propping up a system of climate injustice. Fossil fuel companies destroy habitats, poison air and water and emit atrocious amounts of greenhouse gases, all while stealing resources from future generations. These externalities are increasingly propagated among the world’s poor and voiceless populations. Unable to voice opposition, these populations lack the resources to adapt or move away from the negative effects of fossil fuel extraction. As a moral leader, Notre Dame must firmly state that climate injustice is unacceptable, divest from fossil fuel companies and encourage individual action to battle climate change.
As students of a Catholic university, it is imperative that we take individual action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Now that our federal government has failed us, it is up to small organizations and individuals to make a substantial lifestyle change. Whether we reduce our meat intake, ride a Limebike to Belmont or swear off the use of disposable plastic, we each have a duty to reduce our personal emissions and speak up against climate injustice. Attending a world renowned Catholic institution requires us to lead by example, both by demanding Notre Dame’s divestment from fossil fuel companies and by individually acting in a way to minimize our impact on our common home.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.