The letter delivery was performed in solidarity with over 400 actions occurring on 6 continents for the first-ever Global Divestment Day, organized by international environmental group, 350.org.
Fossil Free PSU is Penn State’s chapter of the global fossil fuel divestment movement. It campaigns for Penn State to remove investments in fossil fuel companies from its endowment fund.
An Open Letter to President Eric Barron:
Dear President Barron,
Given your history of devotion to the atmospheric sciences and service to notable scientific organizations including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), among others, we know that we need not convey to you the urgency of the challenges posed by climate change. We also know that you understand the responsibility of society’s most influential institutions to lead by both word and example in the fight against climate change, and that among these institutions is the great university over which you now preside.
Penn State has made clear that it, as a university, understands the necessity of environmental conscientiousness in the midst of Earth’s climate crisis. It has illustrated this understanding through undertakings in expanding recycling programs and energy efficiency, including a LEED-certified Beaver Stadium. While actions such as these are undoubtedly steps in the right direction, the goodwill that they contain comes laced in hypocrisy, as the University continues to provide monetary support to the climate change-inducing machine that is the fossil fuel industry.
Through its endowment, Penn State invests tens of millions of dollars in fossil fuel companies each and every year. Investments of this magnitude in the fossil fuel industry are socially irresponsible. They place Penn State’s long-term financial health in jeopardy, and they provide funding to companies whose business models ensure that the planet on which we are expected to carry out our Penn State education is plagued by climate catastrophe. Through these investments, Penn State nullifies its own climate scientists’ work by financing the companies that are responsible for disinformation campaigns that spread doubt of climate science.
We at Fossil Free PSU, our partner organizations, and our supporters, regard fossil fuel investments as contradictory to the larger goals and missions of the University and to its reputation as an institution committed to sustainability. Therefore, we urge you, President Barron, to join us in support of fossil fuel divestment at Penn State, and to do so by creating an official dialogue on the matter with University Vice Presidents and the Board of Trustees.
By divesting, Penn State would establish itself as a university that is truly committed to combatting climate change, while simultaneously securing its long-term financial well-being. Divestment would further Penn State’s rich and storied tradition of leadership by pioneering a social movement that history is bound to judge favorably. It’s time to divest.
For the glory,
Fossil Free PSU