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The Antelope

NU has mandate to divest from fossil fuels

UNK Louie Loper

University of Nebraska-Lincoln student, Divest NU advocate

As students, we come to the University of Nebraska to invest in our future. In exchange for tuition, the university invests countless resources to prepare us to impact the world after graduation. It’s unsettling that our investment is being counteracted by the university’s investment in fossil fuels — an industry destroying the planet and people’s lives, making our future uncertain.

The last six years have been the hottest ever recorded on Earth. The 2019 flood cost Nebraska over $1.3 billion in losses and displaced many families. This global crisis has local solutions. NU must take action, starting with divestment.

The NU system has $91.3 million invested in the fossil fuel industry. Students delivered demands for divestment to NU’s administration in January of 2020 and since then maintained a professional line of communication on this issue.

We still have no answer on our university’s plans to divest, students at Creighton and Doane have theirs: full divestment.

NU’s fossil fuel investments directly oppose our commitments to sustainability, climate action and racial justice.

Chancellor Ronnie Green recently named “Climate Change Mitigation and Resilience” as one of UNL’s seven grand challenges. In 2017, Chancellor Jeffrey Gold announced UNMC’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2030. We applaud these good intentions,  but NU’s investments in fossil fuels show those words to be simply performative.

Chancellor Green named “Anti-racism and Racial Equity” as another grand challenge. Fossil fuels disproportionately impact communities of color. The NAACP reports that 68% of Black Americans live or have lived within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Marginalized communities are forced to breathe polluted air and bear the brunt of negative externalities associated with burning fossil fuels. The fossil fuel industry was built on a foundation of environmental racism. NU’s financial ties to this industry contradict our commitment to racial justice and betray Black, Indigenous and Students of Color.

The harsh realities of climate change are triggering doubt in fossil fuels. As institutions around the world divest, returns on investments in fossil fuels dwindle. Fossil fuel investments aren’t in the best interest of NU’s financial future.

Both UNO and UNL student governments and the Association of Big Ten Students passed resolutions demanding divestment. Furthermore, Divest NU collected over 600 petition signatures supporting divestment.

Climate change could alter life as we know it unless we take action to reduce emissions. We must hold the fossil fuel industry accountable rather than continue to support its environmental racism and planetary destruction. It’s time to do what we know is right. Divest NU demands the following: immediately freezing new investments in fossil fuel companies on the CU200, publicly committing to full divestment from the fossil fuel industry by 2025, and making information and actions regarding fossil fuel divestment public and transparent.

If these are unmet without explanation by April 9th, we will have to conclude that our restrained means of advocacy (private meetings, testimony, etc.) were not heard by the university and Divest NU will begin taking direct action (sit-ins, protests, etc.) April 10th.

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