'Something Momentous is Happening': Hundreds of Stanford Professors Call For Full Fossil Fuel Divestment

Hundreds of Stanford University professors published an open letter on Sunday demanding that the university divest the entirety of its holdings from all fossil fuel companies.

“If a university seeks to educate extraordinary youth so they may achieve the brightest possible future, what does it mean for that university simultaneously to invest in the destruction of that future?” asks the letter addressed to university president John Hennessy and the school Board of Trustees.

Coming in the wake of the May 2014 Board of Trustees announcement that the school would not invest in publicly traded coal companies—a decision the university faculty praised for setting a “precedent of responsibility and integrity”—the letter reasons: “Given that the university has signaled its awareness of the dangers posed by fossil fuels, what are the implications of Stanford’s making only a partial confrontation with this danger?”

The letter notes that in order to stay beneath the scientifically designated 2-degree warming threshold, beyond which we face cataclysmic climate disruption, scientific consensus says we must cap fossil fuel emissions at 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide. Current fossil fuel companies claim holdings sufficient to produce 2795 gigatons.

Even after coal “is taken out of the equation,” the world’s oil and gas holdings still represent 978 gigatons of carbon, or nearly double the 565 gigaton cap. Thus, the decision to divest from coal, the group argues, is not enough.

“The urgency and magnitude of climate change call not for partial solutions, however admirable: they demand the more profound and thorough commitment embodied in divestment from all fossil-fuel companies,” the letter states.