Today the Board of Trustees presented their decision regarding fossil fuel divestment. After working on this campaign for over three years, the Board has decided to not divest any portion of its endowment from fossil fuels. They have decided to keep profiting off of the destruction of our planet, while ignoring the promises upheld in our mission statement, specifically care for the planet and solidarity for the poor and vulnerable.
The recommendations that were given are empty agreements. None of them seriously address Gonzaga’s part in the climate crisis and use green-washing as a technique to disguise these recommendations as adequate. They are not meaningful and will not lead to any significant change in Gonzaga’s investments. It is not enough to merely suggest that we follow our mission statement, but require it. The first recommendation is the only one that requires action and still allows for Gonzaga to profit off of the destruction of our planet. The last four recommendations are measures we should have been taking for years and are not binding in any capacity—they simply suggest that we act more environmentally and socially responsible.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we have eleven years until climate catastrophe. Climate change will cause more frequent heat waves and droughts, water shortages, heavier rainfall, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, species extinction, and more outbreaks of infectious diseases. Admittedly, Gonzaga’s contribution to climate change is negligible, but is our conscious clean if we continue to ignore the millions of people already facing the effects of climate change, while profiting from it? Our climate does not have time to wait for our Board to make morally conscious decisions. There is no issue more pressing than climate change and it is unacceptable for Gonzaga to stand on the sidelines.
On the FAQ page of the Socially Responsible Investing, “The Task Force recommended – and the Board of Trustees agreed – that an intentional commitment to invest in companies that are implementing ways to reduce carbon emissions and have sustainable business practices is a more impactful and financially responsible strategy than divestment.” Investing in those sorts of sustainable companies does not negate the fact that we remain invested in fossil fuel companies that have been deceitful and entirely profit-driven for decades. Our good investments should not simply be required to outweigh our bad, but should reflect Gonzaga University’s commitment to social justice. If we truly want to encourage the Gonzaga community to embrace and live out our Jesuit mission, then we must also do so in our Investment strategy moving forward. These recommendations do not meet this standard.
We appreciate the time and consideration the Task Force and Board of Trustees has committed to this issue. There has undoubtedly been effective communication and transparency that has allowed this process to maintain collaboration. However, when considering the realities of the climate crisis, Fossil Free Gonzaga does not accept these recommendations. Our campaign is not dissolving and will continue until Gonzaga has divested all of its holdings from fossil fuel companies.
-Olivia Jackiewicz, ’19