L. Hunter Lovins
13 April, 2015
As more US colleges divest from fossil fuel companies, a new question arises: what to do with all that cash?
It began in 2012 with Unity College in Maine. Then Stanford joined in, followed by Syracuse. Now, more than 20 US colleges have divested from fossil fuel companies. A month ago, Swarthmore students stepped up pressure for their administration to divest by occupying a campus building, a move mirrored by students at University of Mary Washington, Harvard and Yale.
Why? As the divestment advocate Go Fossil Fuel Free puts it: “If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage.”
But once an institution has divested, the question arises: what to do with the money? When the Rockefellers, The Gates Foundation, Warren Buffett and George Soros all sold Exxon, you know they didn’t just put the proceeds under the mattress.
Whether they ultimately divest or not, colleges have a great option: they can invest in themselves. Last year, Swarthmore’s board of managers rejected divestment, for example, but committed millions of dollars to enhancing energy efficiency at the college.