350.org's fossil fuel "divestment" exposed as pointless political puppetry by National Association of Scholars


This week, the Fossil Free Tour hits Europe. Creative Commons: 350.org, 2013

From the National Association of Scholars

When Colleges Divest, Who Wins?

NEW YORK, November 10, 2015 | The National Association of Scholars (NAS) released today the first comprehensive account of the campaign to get colleges to sell off their investments in coal, oil, and natural gas companies.

Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement to Turn a Generation Against Fossil Fuels finds that the campus fossil fuel divestment campaign undermines intellectual freedom, democratic self-government, and responsible stewardship of natural resources. The report presents a wealth of original research and concludes with new essays by writers including Bill McKibben, the national leader of the divestment campaign, and Willie Soon, the Harvard Smithsonian physicist who is a prominent critic of the global warming “consensus.”

More Political Than Practical

Issued less than a month before the Paris climate talks in which President Obama is expected to repeat his vow to move America off fossil fuels to combat global warming, the NAS report shows that divestment is more of a political rallying cry than a practical step to improve the environment.

Peter Wood, president of the NAS, explained, “Divestment divides the political left.  The campus activists often criticize President Obama for not going far enough in his ‘war on coal’ and his opposition to the Keystone Pipeline.  Their campaign is meant to pressure him to take even more radical steps.”

As the study details, most divestments are empty political promises with little financial effect on fossil fuel companies. The leaders of the movement see the sham divestment decisions as part of the strategy. “The divestment campaign is designed to fail,” said Rachelle Peterson, director of research projects at NAS and author of Inside Divestment. “The organizers’ goal is not to cause colleges to divest, but to anger students at the refusal of colleges to divest fully and to turn their frustration into long-term antipathy toward the modern fossil fuel-based economy.”

Wood explained, “The movement pretends to change the way we generate energy, but its actual aim is to generate resentment, which is fuel for political demagoguery.  The ultimate beneficiaries are rich people whose investments in ‘green energy’ will prosper only if they can trick the public to strand our reserves of coal, oil, and gas underground. They favor high-priced, inefficient technologies that happen to require massive government subsidies coupled with sweeping new government powers.  Students drawn by ‘save the world’ rhetoric and prevented from ever hearing arguments on the other side have become willing pawns for a movement that, rightly understood, is profoundly anti-democratic and that will also consign much of humanity to perpetual poverty.”

Students as Pawns

Divestment campaigns, now on more than 1,000 American colleges and universities, have adopted tactics that violate the free speech of others.  The activists increasingly obstruct fair and open debate by smearing opponents and by bullying other students. The NAS study documents these tactics with case studies of several colleges, including the birthplace of the divestment movement, Swarthmore College.

Wood explained, “The divestment campaigns have been organized by professional activists.  Our report peels back the image the campaign projects of an organic student-led movement.  In fact, it is a nationally orchestrated campaign with top-down directives.”

350.org, the organization that brought the campaign to national prominence, pays and trains students for activism and schedules campus protests. “The divestment movement is astroturf,” said Peterson.


Peterson also shows that some of the activists’ key claims are hollow. “We found that colleges and universities that claim to divest overwhelmingly choose to retain large portions of their fossil fuel investments.” On average, divestment decisions affect only about 1 percent of the college endowment and leave approximately 50 percent of fossil fuel investments in place. The study lists four “DINOs,” or divestments in name only; these are universities, including Oxford, whose divestment decisions resulted in selling no investments at all.

Inside Divestment follows the NAS’s March 2015 report, Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism.

Download Inside Divestment (pdf)



Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement to Turn a Generation Against Fossil Fuels

The fossil fuel divestment movement (FFDM) is raging on America’s college campuses. On the surface, it is an effort to get colleges to sell off their investments in coal, oil, and gas. Its real goal is to radicalize students and stoke public support for drastic political and economic transformations.

· There are more than 1,000 campus-based fossil fuel divestment campaigns.

· 30 American colleges and universities, including Stanford and Georgetown, have divested.

· 72 percent of Harvard undergraduates voted to support fossil fuel divestment.

FFDM is Astroturf. It presents itself as student-led. In fact it is managed by professional activists.

· 350.org pays students to be activists, arranges summer training for activists, and offers paid internships for activists.

· The movement’s themes, Twitter hashtags, and “days of action” are determined top-down.

· Professors have given college credit for working on divestment campaigns and taught entire classes focused on fossil fuel divestment. Nearly 4,000 American professors have signed petitions or voted for fossil fuel divestment.

FFDM is elitist. It is driven by wealthy donors and deep-pocketed foundations and serves the material interests of Solyndra-style eco-cronyism.

· FFDM is most fervent at wealthy colleges such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Swarthmore.

· Tom Steyer (net worth $1.6 billion; largest contributor to Democratic Party 2014; Stanford trustee) bankrolls Bill McKibben’s 350.org.

· Schumann Media Center (assets $31 million) funds McKibben’s Middlebury College position and funded 350.org’s founding.

· Al Gore (net worth $173 million), founder of Generation Investment Management ($12 billion), called on Harvard and all other colleges to divest from fossil fuels.

FFDM is puppetry. The organizers are using the students and the colleges to advance their agenda at the Paris Climate talks.

· Activists say they plan to use universities as political pawns to drive popular support for an onerous climate pact at the UN climate summit this December.

· Student activists report that the purpose of divestment is to “politicize and radicalize students,” not to defund the fossil fuel industry.

FFDM is phony. Many of the claims of the organizers and supporters are hollow.

· Only 34 percent of “divested” colleges have fully shed their fossil fuel investments.

· Four of these are “DINOs”—divestments in name only. These four, including Oxford University, have sold no investments at all since their divestment decisions.

· Organizers admit that divestment has no net effect on fossil fuel companies. Their goal is student recruitment, not divestment per se.

FFDM is irrational. Divestment is sold to students as an answer to global warming, but taken on its own terms, divesting would have no meaningful effect on the Earth’s temperature.

· Advocates of divestment, including Bill McKibben, acknowledge that divestment will not decrease the share prices of fossil fuel companies or appreciably shrink their profits and access to capital.

· The two most popular reasons colleges give for divesting are to stop climate change (72 percent) and to support “sustainability” (69 percent). But fossil fuel investments affected by divestment decisions comprise only about 1 percent of the total college endowment.

· Many well-respected environmentalists dismiss divestment as a distraction from effective policies. These include Frank Wolak (director, Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Stanford), Steven Cohen (executive director, Earth Institute, Columbia), Robert Stavins (lead author, three IPCC reports; professor of business and government, Harvard Kennedy School), and Mike Hulme (professor of climate change, University of East Anglia).

FFDM is political. Divestment turns the university endowment into a billboard for virtue signaling. It turns trustees and donors into political operatives rather than patrons of higher education.

· 83 percent of all divested colleges and universities in the United States are located in states that the Gallup Poll ranks as either “solid” or “leaning” toward the Democratic party. No state that is “solid” or “leaning” Republican has any divested colleges or universities.

· One-third of colleges and universities that reject divestment say that divestment would entangle the endowment in political battles and destroy the university’s political neutrality.

About the author: Rachelle Peterson is director of research projects at the National Association of Scholars. She is the co-author with Peter Wood of Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism, published by the National Association of Scholars in March 2015.

About the National Association of Scholars: The National Association of Scholars is a network of scholars and citizens united by their commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. It upholds the standards of a liberal arts education that fosters intellectual freedom, searches for the truth, and promotes virtuous citizenship.

110 thoughts on “350.org's fossil fuel "divestment" exposed as pointless political puppetry by National Association of Scholars

  1. Campuses should be places of learning. But today, they have become a breeding ground for indoctrination … whether its catastrophic man-made global warming, progressive liberalism, political correctness, etc … you name it, they no longer encourage people to be tolerant free thinkers and debaters … they teach people how to shut down and boycott issues rather than be civil and debate such issues. They are undermining democracy.

    • From the comments below,
      “Allencic November 10, 2015 at 7:27 am
      Just a bunch of hypocritical little snots who believe the nonsense their bolshevik politically correct professors ram into their jello-like brains. Pitiful”
      (emphasis mine)
      You say “Today, they have become…,” I say “They have always been…,” at least as long as any of us here have been alive… long enough to have inspired the original Bolsheviks, at any rate.

      • I dunno, when I went undergrad to an engineering college, we were hardly little Bolsheviks. It is hard to be politically correct in your thermo course.

      • ShrNfr – yeah, me too – 40 hours a week of classes and labs plus assignments in engineering doesn’t leave much time for activism. But the Arts and Sciences groups, with a course load half or less than that , have lots of time to sit with their left leaning profs and discuss changing the future. (do you want fries with that – or a 350.org t-shirt?) Seems like those groups have always existed in Universities, but now we have media blitzes and big money vested interests.

    • 350.org is significantly funded by BIG OIL.
      Eat your heart out Anthony.
      Yup on their web site http://350.org/about/2013-annual-report/ click on “financial information”. I can even give you some of the amounts donated.
      Both the Rockefeller Brothers and the Rockefeller Foundation (two different entities) show up here.
      Also League of Young Voters Education Fund and the New Venture Fund who are also donors to 350.org show up on the Rockefellers grant search.
      I have no figures showing grantees from the Rockefeller Foundation.
      The Rockefellers are the very biggest of big oil. One of their aims appears to be in creating a market for renewables. Doing a good job they are as well because recently they have been buying into renewables. 350.org call it “Divesting their fossil fuel assets”. Either way the Rockefellers are now in a even better to milk the tax payer and will be doing well.

    • I would note that the report states much of the activity is due to outside influences: funding for training, professional organizers/agitators and the like.
      Equally, the NAS is composed of professors.
      Thus it seems your heavy handed attack on all colleges and the people who attend and/or work there is at least a little bit displaced.

  2. Drive down the price of coal stocks and people like George Soros come in and buy them up at rock bottom prices.

  3. Same crowd behind the divest from Israel movement. Since the Progressives/New Left came to power USA campuses are back to the Sixties. A handful of activists organized by off campus professionals leading the mostly bored. It will pass.

  4. Remember,
    these are the little kids who were inflicted by 911/Trade Towers.
    Their parents were scared, everything was a problem.
    Like the Silent Generation who grew up during WW II, they are fearful for themselves.

  5. Perhaps they should stop using electricity from the grid – at least 40% comes from coal. However, the probably want hypocrisy without consequences.

    • They probably don’t know that at least 40% of electricity comes from coal, Walt D. They are ignorant as well as stupid.

    • Better yet, look at photo above. Probably PLASTIC poles, PLASTIC mesh and PLASTIC letters. All made from the “Evil” Natural Gas…

  6. “Professors have given college credit for working on divestment campaigns and taught entire classes focused on fossil fuel divestment. Nearly 4,000 American professors have signed petitions or voted for fossil fuel divestment.”
    I wonder in what equally high-returning portfolios are their pension palns invested? Will they be compensated when it is demonstrated that they have financially lost-out on their pensions as a result of such divestment!!! Really potentially very financially risky thing to do, as surely investemnt fund managers have a duty of care to ensure investors get the maximum return for their money?

    • I think there may be a separation of retirement (pension) funds and endowment funds. In the USA, at State support colleges and universities retirement pensions are managed by a state agency.
      A second confounding issue is this:
      My wife taught at a State supported university. About 20 years ago a plan allowed people to opt-out of the state/university retirement pension plan. Several large mutual fund companies agreed to provide investment options and money could be directed as desired by the person. There were (and are) salary matches of up to 10%. When the faculty member retires the appropriate person for the university signs-off and the investment converts to an individual retirement account (IRA) in the name of the faculty. Thereafter, the state is no longer involved.
      The day the plan was operational, we visited the HR office and signed the opt-out forms.

      • Brit Uni pensions are different, like many public sector pensions. They are paid mostly by the current employees through deductions in the pay-packet, plus some co ntributions from guvment in some cases. It’s the private sector pensions that have been hit in the UK, with the final salary schemes being slashed left, right, & centre! Some of us may never be able to retire permanently!

      • Endowment funds are money given to colleges through private (and governmental) grants, donations and foundations-these are never used to pay pensions with. Investment funds are money earned by the university by” investing” money in the stock market which includes oil, coal and gas commodities-almost always used in pension plans.
        Even if a State college’s retirement plan is managed by a state agency, the money in that plan gets placed into various types of “investment” funds in order to grow the potential retirement outcome.

      • In Georgia, most professors are using TIAA Cref with most of their investments in a mix of mutual funds. The staff people have a state-run contribution pension system (Georgia Teachers Retirement Plan).
        If I were a professor rather than a lab staffer, I’d want the TIAA Cref plan because it makes it easier to pick up and move to greener pastures if needed. I won’t even get the state match on my pension contributions to roll over into a 401K when I leave unless I put in 10 years here. There are too many better paying opportunities for a physics graduate then prepping a lab for undergrads.

    • “Professors have given college credit for working on divestment campaigns and taught entire classes focused on fossil fuel divestment.”
      Student A: “I just graduated and I’m looking for a job.”
      Student B: “Cool; what’s your major?”
      Student A: “I majored in the dental hygiene practices of the ancient Dufus Bufu people.”
      Student B: “You idiot, how the hell you think you’re gonna’ get a job with that degree?”
      Student A: “Ok, smart..ss, what’s your major?”
      Student B: “Fossil fuel divestment.”
      Nuff said

    • Excellent point – are all those professors, and their students, demanding that TIAA-CREF divsts of all energy stocks?

    • Most college professors use TIAA-CREF for retirement. TIAA-CREF is a century old organization that provides retirement services for colleges and certain non-profit medical and research organizations.
      It is extremely well run and there are numerous types of accounts that retirement investments can be put into.
      A number of years ago (something like 30 years ago) in response to requests (demands?) from liberal professors, the CREF part of the company formed a “Social Choice Account” as one of the accounts that a member could invest in.
      Some quotes from the prospectus of the Social Choice Account:
      “Holdings in the equity portion of the Account are subject to certain
      environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) criteria provided by a vendor…”
      “Typically, environmental assessment categories include
      climate change, natural resource use, waste management and environmental
      opportunities. Social evaluation categories include human capital, product safety
      and social opportunities. Governance assessment categories include corporate
      governance, business ethics and governance and public policy.”
      “The social and environmental impact of corporate activities related to
      the production and sale of alcohol, tobacco, military weapons, firearms, nuclear
      power and gambling products and services are quantified and incorporated into a
      company’s overall ESG performance assessment. While not automatically
      excluded from the Account, most companies involved in these industries are
      ineligible for inclusion in the Account due to their poor overall ESG performance.”
      I don’t have any money in that account, so I don’t get the report of holdings. Hence I have no idea if this account has sold off any holdings in carbon based fuel companies
      But yes, liberal professors can choose, to a certain extent, how their retirement is invested. They pay a price for their social activism however. The current 10 year return of CREF’s Equity Index Account is 7.54%, while the Social Choice Account has a 10 year return of 5.82%.

      • old engineer writes:
        “But yes, liberal professors can choose, to a certain extent, how their retirement is invested. They pay a price for their social activism however. The current 10 year return of CREF’s Equity Index Account is 7.54%, while the Social Choice Account has a 10 year return of 5.82%.”
        So, if I read this correctly, I think you’re saying liberal professors have may have a vested interest in shorting fossil fuel stocks? They’re close to retirement and losing large amounts of money?
        Well, this might just be a reflection on the relative intelligence of “liberal” professors? I quote the word “liberal” in this use because I suspect you meant to write “progressive”. I’m a liberal myself, but not a progressive. I have a deep dislike of today’s progressives co-opting the term “liberal”; I have no like for it at all. Liberal thinking was the basis of what we now call “The Enlightenment” of the 1700’s and it should not be corrupted by the intellectually bankrupt advocates of public policy that brought us Lysenkoism, or the Statist bullies that successfully perpetrated Stasi tactics on an entire continent during the second half of the 20th century.
        But the same “liberal” professors are the ones who don’t bother to teach the extremely obvious downside of Marxism to our children.

  7. Okay, and in the mean time raise the interest rates on student loans to reflect the real risk of Utopian symbolism.

    • You don’t get it… student loans are the next refuge of the monetarists…just like credit cards. These financial powers that be have confused charging money for money and treating it as the same thing as charging interest on a loan to actually produce something.

    • Resourceguy writes: “Okay, and in the mean time raise the interest rates on student loans to reflect the real risk of Utopian symbolism.”
      Exactly, and a point completely lost on Keynesian economists. The government prints money in the form of student loans, the price of education increases. The government prints money in the form of health care subsidies, the price of health care increases. The government prints money in the form of “alternative energy” subsidies, the price of energy increases. GOvernment subsidize housing, the price of housing increases. Government subsidizes food, he price of food increases.
      Soon, no one will be able to afford an education, a home, health care, food or energy without government subsidy. And so government wins.
      It takes a Keynesian to ignore this relationship and say there is no inflation.

  8. They need to turn off the power to universities, only when students and deluded academics have to face the cold and damp in the dark are they going to recognise what they stand for means.

  9. Just a bunch of hypocritical little snots who believe the nonsense their bolshevik politically correct professors ram into their jello-like brains. Pitiful.

    • I suspect you underestimate the motives of your own children. They’re bitter and they have an overweening sense of entitlement. They resemble the Bolsheviks in more ways than you seem to imagine.
      Occupy , you might meet more women than sitting in Mom’s basement playing Warcraft.

  10. Where do they think the tuition payments come from? They would do better divesting from over priced textbooks, dorm cubicles, and speaker fees for Hillary.

  11. I was part of the movement for universities to divest from companies doing business in South Africa, during the Apartheid days.
    I believe that the SA apartheid government structure tumbled directly, partly, because of this political movement – probably more by the optics than for the loss of tax revenue by SA govt or by pressure from these businesses upon the SA govt. But either way, I believe this movement had a meaningful role in that historical change.
    So, it worked. Now, I see the model being used for less noble issues. I am very troubled that an entire generation of U.S. youth buy the anti-Israel line, as well as buy the global warming scam – people who can do math cannot figure out what a losing proposition it is to believe we will all live off of solar and wind power? Ah, to be young and idealistic again.
    The Marxists were wise to use college kids as a major vector for advancing their ideals. At Kent State, the SDS came in as outsiders (not many people realize that was a manufactured tragedy, not a naturally arising conflict), but now outside agitators are barely needed – the profs are the agitators.

    • TheLastDemocrat
      “I was part of the movement for universities to divest from companies doing business in South Africa…”, :…for less noble issues.” “…to be young and idealistic again.”
      I’m sure if you were young and idealistic again, you would be out there for this noble issue as well… Just rationalize until it feels good! I sincerely hope your post was meant as humor, I probably missed the /sarc tag.

    • @TLD
      Your belief is a charming tribute to your continuing naivete. To the extent that there was any effect, the only people getting hurt were the locals employed by the businesses that decided to beat feet. I’m sure there’s a dead child or two to lay at your door because the parents couldn’t afford medicine or food, thanks to your efforts. But by all means, feel good about yourself. I hope you’re an atheist, ’cause otherwise you might contemplate answering some hard questions on Judgement Day.

      • DJ: I am a Christian. If you are, I am surprised that you would hope I am an atheist.
        I feel pretty guilty now that you have found some long, twisted argument about how my involvement in a campus protest tangentially contributed to the death of a sick child on the other side of the planet.
        I believe you may have a career developing guilt-inducing media campaigns for Greenpeace. They need a follow-up to the “carbon-footprint” guilt campaign.

      • And TLD? I’d like to mention something D.J. Hawkins omits: That is was a serial Democrat administration, who were the pawns of Royal Shell Oil in the prosecution of the Vietnam war for control of the South China Sea oil deposits. Nixon, a Republican (and perhaps The Last Republican, ended that war and was taken down viciously.
        So you go ahead and do your very best to claim the moral high ground.

    • Nobody in S. Africa cared about the divestment movement. Sorry to break your bubble, but you wasted your time and lots of other people’s money making yourself feel good.

    • TheLastDemocrat
      “divest from companies doing business in South Africa, during the Apartheid days.”
      Well you sure got conned back then.
      One of the mineral ores that came from South Africa was used to make carbide cutting tools for the machine industry. I think it was Westinghouse that had the corner for importing it into the USA. So what happened was Westinghouse was forced to give up its contract. Of course we still needed carbide, sooo, Israel picked up the contract and turned the ore into tooling. Didn’t hurt the SA apartheid government, was, good for the Israelis, but injured American Companies their workers and their families.
      Next time only divest what you sell and only if its a monopoly that you hold. South Africa at the time had over 90 % of the carbide ores. There was no where else to turn.

      • Mike: please see other responses to my comment – apparently others believe my school’s divestment had no impact, while you see my school as leading Westinghouse to leave a lucrative deal.
        Also – your response is strange if flipped around: My university had an obligation higher than earnings to stay invested in Westinghouse? A moral duty to Westinghouse, or USA? If my university thought it could make more money shifting from Westinghouse to another investment, they should stay because of Westinghouse’s need for the investment, or the USA’s over-riding interest in my university’s investment in SA Westinghouse?
        That is the investment strategy of Al Gore: only invest in the most moral investments; financial choice, preference, and image did not matter.

      • TheLastDemocrat
        The universities were pressing every one to divest. It did not mean your universities divesting in Westinghouse it was to force Westinghouse to to to no longer import ore from South Africa. It was to stop all business between the USA and South Africa.
        Every item produced the needed carbide cutting tools became more expensive. Did you not think that forcing all the industries in the USA to add a foreign middleman was in our countries interests?
        We were just lucky that it was the Israelis that managed to snag the contract. Who do you think was backing your movement back then?. Both us and the Soviets never passed up an opportunity to do the other a mischief. That’s all it was another skirmish in the “Cold War”.
        Live and learn. They were playing the college kids, they were to young, to inexperienced to know.
        BTW even as late as last year most of the boxes of carbide inserts I used (as well as other types of carbide cutters) said “made in Israel”.
        Comrade Stalin had a name for such people “Useful fools”.

    • TLD: You mention Kent State. You mention the SDS.
      “Tin Soldiers and Nixon comin’
      We’re finally on our own.
      This summer I hear the drumin’
      Four dead in Ohio”.
      The Marxists did us no favors. Nor did the SDS. People died needlessly. Nixon ended the Vietnam war and restored economic relations with China. Then the Democrats pilloried him for it. Who’s side were they on?
      Sorry I can’t sympathize with your transparent attempt to justify your lethal and horribly anti-social authoritarian tactics, it’s just the way I role. You start violence, it will be answered with violence, sometimes with overwhelming violence. So don’t throw rocks, bombs or Molotov cocktails, it’s poor form. We live in a Democratic Republic. It may not be the best form of government, but it’s better than anything else.
      Problem solved.

      • If you folks are willing to hold this for moderation would you mind also correcting the spelling and grammar errors? In all of my posts please?
        I would sincerely appreciate it. Since I can’t go back and edit for corrections and there’s no “preview” option i’t a little embarrassing sometimes. Really.

  12. If these schools are willing to allow themselves and their students to be pawns in this campaign to divest from fossil fuels, then let’s REALLY divest them; Pull them off of the electrical grid, install solar panels on their roofs, wind turbines on their campuses and disallow them from using fossil fuel powered cars to get between the campuses and home. Then we’ll see how much they truly want fossil fuels to go away.
    I wonder how much those professors who signed that anti-fossil fuels petition will enjoy teaching their classes without electricity…. or at least enough of it.

  13. I reported here before, in comments directly addressed to Bill McKibben, that I, among others, were going to travel to Kingston to oppose the plan agitated by McKibben’s foreign henchmen at 350.org provoking the students of Queens University, Kingston Ontario, to demand that Queens divest itself from all fossil fuel industries, and to impose that condition on derivative investments it did make.
    I did not personally make a contribution as I am not an alumnus of that institution. However three of us went together from Waterloo to show solidarity. The presentation made included the observation that to deny hundreds of millions of people access to modern energy was a crime against humanity.
    The final report has been issued. This is the letter to the contributors:
    Dear [Contributor – P.Eng. Ontario],
    Thank you very much for participating in the consultation process of the Principal’s Advisory Committee on Divestment: Fossil Fuels.
    I am writing to inform you that yesterday the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees, which is charged with making the final decision on this subject, adopted the advisory committee’s recommendations and decided not to divest from the fossil fuel sector. The advisory committee’s report is now posted online and a news story has been posted to the Queen’s Gazette website.
    When I struck the advisory committee, I wanted to ensure that everyone in the Queen’s community would have an opportunity to have their views heard on this matter. The advisory committee held a six-month consultation period during which it received more than 220 submissions and presentations from alumni, students, staff, faculty and others.
    The advisory committee’s report did not dispute that climate change is a crucial challenge and that the consumption of fossil fuels is a contributing factor. However, the committee did not find that the case for divestment was made on the basis of ‘social injury,’ as defined in Queen’s Statement on Responsible Investing, the policy document that governs this decision-making process. The committee also determined that divestment would be primarily a symbolic gesture, and not an effective tool for mitigating the risks of climate change.
    Queen’s endowment funds exist solely to support the university’s academic mission, including teaching and research, and the university has an obligation to seek the best possible return on these investments. The most effective contributions that Queen’s can make with respect to climate change are by continuing to incorporate themes of sustainability and climate change into its academic programs and research, and by continuing to lessen the environmental impact of the university’s operations.
    Once again, I would like to thank you for your contribution to this process. I know that the advisory committee benefited greatly from hearing the views of so many individuals on both sides of the issue.
    Daniel Woolf
    Prof. Daniel Woolf, D Phil, FSA, FRSC
    Principal and Vice-Chancellor
    Richardson Hall Room 351
    Queen’s University
    Kingston, Ontario
    Canada K7L 3N6
    Relevant links are

    • Crispin in Waterloo but really in Accra
      Did I read this right,,, you were successful????

      • Correct. Not me of course, I went along to heckle the hecklers. We found none. We then raided the University bookshop.

    • Grist Magazine
      Board includes Bill McKibben
      Grist funders include:
      Granthom Foundation
      Rockefeller Brother’s Fund
      Tides Foundation, chaired by Joanie Bronfman, Segram’s Canada heiress.
      McKibben also has known associations in other organizations with people involved in Greenpeace.
      Get organizations to divest in fossil fuels and then have them invest the money in renewable energy.

    • Congratulations to you Dr. Woolf, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” 🙂
      Well done in listening to the issues and debate with an open mind. People like yourself are the ones we, as a society, depend on. Right or wrong, you’ve stood by academic principals that should never be sacrificed.

  14. Honest environmentalists should be going after those that promote the wasteful use of so many resources to fight a beneficial gas………………at the expense of policies and substantive efforts to cut real pollution.
    CO2=pollution is all that matters any more. You would think that there isn’t any other pollution.
    Yeah, I know, it’s increasing CO2 from man made global climate models that will cause the dangerous warming that will threaten humans in the future.
    However, take a step back and look at planet earth greening up from increasing CO2, then dial in more CO2 and more warmth and imagine what earth(absent humans) will look like.
    Seems like most of the theorized threats relate more to humans and are not environmental………which is the intent, to influence the opinions of humans about this imminent threat.
    Humans are no doubt having a negative environmental impact on many levels but increasing CO2 is not one of them.

    • Personally I take issue with some people who engage in eating large amounts of garlic before exhaling. Had I been raised in Paris I probably wouldn’t exhibit (or even exhale) this bias of mine. Just thought I’d add that feeble attempt and schoolboy humor. I could move on to jokes about… methane?

  15. Spoiled liberal brats from the “ME” generation who have know idea of the consequences of their actions….Take away their laptops and Iphones and maybe they will learn !!!!

  16. Universities?
    What are they now? Diploma Mills.
    I support the divestment plan, can I divest myself of the tax drain these institutions and their product impose on civil society.
    As above commenters note, let the university become fossil fuel free immediately.
    Let them be an example to us all.
    Of course I mean all materials derived from petroleum products.
    Wonder how those calculators will operate?
    Cell phones? Ipad type toys?
    Actually I would consider hiring students who actually ran such an experiment, they would mostly be cured of the delusion the credential led nitwits come out with.
    Of course with California now giving C passes to students who bother to turn up in school, I would be more interested in home schooled and no shows.. these might still have the ability to reason.

    • John Robertson writes: “I support the divestment plan, can I divest myself of the tax drain these institutions and their product impose on civil society[?]” [question mark added].
      Yes of course you can John, after embracing the perils of incarceration, divestment of your land and property and possible execution at the hands of the state. You have that right as do I. The hard part in my opinion is taking on an action with such severe consequences. It’s my belief the people advancing this position, that you are a person who is personally and willfully engaging in “crimes against humanity and nature” [a direct quote of Dr. James Hansen’s], are in fact justifiably guilty of those allegations.
      As Christopher Monkton of Brenchley has so recently and eloquently described, the fears you and I share are not without merit.

  17. “The organizers’ goal is not to cause colleges to divest, but to anger students at the refusal of colleges to divest fully and to turn their frustration into long-term antipathy toward the modern fossil fuel-based economy.”
    From my experience the frustrations of the 70’s hippie college students pretty much turned to apathy once we joined the ‘real world’. The next decade college was only about getting a BS, MS, and a BMW.
    Academic inspired idealisms have a hard time remaining viable for those who desire more than in life than welfare living.

    • Wouldn’t it be interesting to see data on how many former anti-war college demonstrators had careers in defense contractor companies?
      And, how many of these kids preaching divestment now will end up working in the fossil fuel industry?

      • Even more fruitful would be an inquiry into the number of so-called hippies with connections to the MIC who infested and misdirected the anti-war movement.

  18. That’s not a heavily attended march. I count roughly a dozen females that seem to be in the march (it appears to me there are no backpacks on the marchers).
    Now I’m just going on my years of experience that the more things change, the more they remain the same, so I’d hazard that six of the eight or so guys don’t count as I suspect they are just there hoping to get lucky with one of the female participants.

  19. Please, please, please divest. Somebody will have to own them. I would be more than willing to add them to my portfolio cheap. In 10 years, folks will want a lot more oil.

  20. They are nothing more than mush-brained useful idiots for a cause they are calling “Climate Justice”. It is all based on nothing more than emotion and propaganda, which, as we saw with Germany in the 30’s, when allied with political power, can be exceedingly evil.

  21. Walk the walk, you hypocrites. Don’t just divest. Turn off your heat and electricity entirely. Do it now. Let us know how you’re doing next Spring.

  22. Oxford Town, Oxford Town
    Everybody’s got their heads bowed down
    The sun don’t shine above the ground
    Ain’t a-goin’ down to Oxford Town

  23. With the exception of Hillsdale and Bob Jones and probably a very few others, the colleges are in the pocket of big government for the student loan money and “research” grants. I noticed in the WSJ yesterday that the association of colleges and universities is the third biggest lobby in D.C. Why wouldn’t they support the liberal twerps and their overly sensitive protests? Don’t look for change any time soon.

  24. …its actual aim is to generate resentment,which is fuel for political demagoguery.”

    It’s working only too well.
    Not only in climate politics, but gender and race politics. It is a very ugly thing as shown at recent Yale student protests. Issues like who should tell who what to wear on Halloween caused alarming reactions of anger, resentment, and spite and demands for firings. A joke told by a speaker at a symposium about free speech was tweeted causing students to rally to the site and scream epitaphs and spit on attendees leaving the event.
    Seething resentment is understatement in describing what is being cultivated on university campuses.

  25. I’m not really concerned about this movement for two reasons.
    1) If the colleges start selling fossil fuel stocks, that means a buying opportunity for me.
    2) If the colleges start selling fossil fuel stocks, the value of their endowments will fall, which means less money for the idiots to use pushing their indoctrination in the future.

  26. No fossil fuels? Then just turn the heat off for them this winter. Let them think about that while they are shivering.

    • “the deep ho biosphere” (Thomas Gold)
      suppose he is right, and suppose also the system for stopping pollution is discovered !!

  27. 6 Nov: WSJ Editorial: The Tombstone Pipeline
    Obama kills thousands of jobs for climate-change symbolism
    President Obama personally killed the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, dismissing the project as a mere “symbol” that “has occupied what I, frankly, consider an overinflated role in our political discourse.” The irony is that the pipeline’s benefits would be tangible, while the symbolism and overinflation are entirely political…
    Mr. Obama suggested that “other big emitters like China” will be impressed. Yet only this week the Chinese revealed that their coal use if 17% higher than previously thought. China is such a heavy carbon user that this 17% wedge alone amounts to 70% of all U.S. coal emissions. If this correction in any way revises Mr. Obama’s climate pact with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he didn’t mention it…

    • Didn’t take POTUS very long to lean on Canada after the election. So what’s next for Canada from POTUS?

    • First, another big emitter is Indonesia. The peat bog fires just emitted more CO2 than the entire USA does in a year. Second, killing the pipeline will force Canada to continue to dump gasoline below market value around the central plains of the USA. Those living in those states are benefiting from the discount. Obama promised cheap gas. Well, why would he allow a pipeline to be built to make it easy to sell gas to someone else?

  28. If fossil fuel is so bad, what about pre-fossilized fuel? No more camp fires? No more smore’s?
    Pity there isn’t a source of fossilized solar power they can tap into. Then they could feel good about going “green”.

  29. Things like transport (All forms), medicines, petro-chemicals, fertilisers, energy, construction, manufacture, agriculture use in some way fossil fuels or items derived from them. Is he saying we should give all this up? If so, you first Bill.

  30. The difference between the greenies and nazis is increasingly difficult to see. They are (were) both so convinced they are doing a good thing and no individual can stand in the way of achieving their goals. It is the same spirit in new clothes.

  31. Stopping the pipeline, divestment, etc. is all political theater with the goal being to hurt coal and oil, and to a lesser extent, gas politically. These sorts of symbolic actions are also rallying points for the climate campaigners, bolstering them, with one goal being to draw in new recruits for the cause. Colleges and universities are already on board with the “sustainability” campaign, and have instituted many expensive changes to the way they operate. So, divestment is just one further step for them, which of course will be very costly.
    Make no mistake; what they want is to bring down what our soldiers have fought and died for. They want to have a new form of totalitarian, “green” and essentially communistic world government instituted. COP21 is a big part of that effort.

  32. Some people just have an emotional need to campaign against something. Once it was campaigning against nuclear weapons. (Remember Aldermaston marches, anybody?) Then it was the Vietnam War. (Remember The Guardian telling us that the Viet Cong had nothing to do with Communism?) Then it was against Apartheid. The disinvestment campaign is just the latest in that series. Each time a campaign becomes redundant they have to find something new to campaign against. It all makes work for the ….

  33. Give the students what they want—shut off the lights, the heat, serve raw food. Let the students figure out how to power a college with only wind and solar. The money saved on those expensive fossil fuel luxuries like heat and lights should give the kids a head start on setting up those ecofriendly turbines and solar panels. The students seem to have plenty of free time to work on alternatives. So, give them what they want.

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