Editorial: PIIAC’s recommendation to divest is only the beginning

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | September 21, 2017

The Public Interest Investment Advisory Committee (PIIAC) released an official recommendation last Friday that the University should fully divest its endowment from fossil fuel companies. The Committee — comprised of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff — not only recommended divestment but also outlined how the University can begin the process.

PIIAC’s report will now go before the Board of Trustees, which will make the final decision.

The Editorial Board is pleased with PIIAC’s call to divest from all fossil fuels rather than just a few.

We commend PIIAC in taking this huge step to push the University towards action that is in line with our mission statement as well as the many sustainability initiatives around campus.

We would also like to recognize the ongoing efforts of Refuel Our Future, the student group that has been pushing the University to divest for the past six years. We commend its members for spending so much time and effort fighting for something they believe in. They should be proud of how their work has led up to this moment.

The University has implemented a 30-day periods where members of the public can comment on the report. We encourage students and faculty to take advantage of this time to keep the momentum of the proposal going and ensure it fully represents the opinions of the Hopkins community.

We also urge the University to be more transparent regarding the logistics of this ongoing process, providing specific dates as to when the Board of Trustees will vote on this proposal. We would also appreciate clarification as to the nature of the vote and whether the Board is allowed to make amendments to the report before making its final decision.

We urge members of the Board of Trustees to establish the University as a moral leader in the ongoing fight against climate change. Divestment isn’t the entire solution, but it’s a significant step.

We are aware that there is much more left to do when it comes to combatting climate change. We remain heavily dependent on fossil fuels in our daily lives. As of now, we are unable to operate solely on alternative energy sources, and the University’s divestment from fossil fuels cannot change that.

As a research university, we must lead the charge in investigating and investing in alternative energy technologies. We also encourage students to be more aware of their own carbon footprints, and do their part to decrease their daily usage of fossil fuels.

Divestment is but one tactic in this fight against climate change. We are happy that the University is moving towards that but we must not allow ourselves to think that the overall fight is over.

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