CISR rejects GU Fossil Free divestment proposal

Despite Georgetown University Fossil Free’s (GUFF) hard work and multiple efforts to convince the University to divest, the Committee on Investment and Social Responsibility (CISR) has rejected its most recent proposal.

A statement from CISR chair Jim Feinerman says, “After four months of discussion and consideration, the CISR voted against the adoption of GUFF’s final proposal to divest completely from fossil fuel companies.”

The proposal states that the University should completely divest from the 200 largest fossil fuel companies in the next three years. It was then sent to CISR, whose role is to examine proposals prepared by members of the Georgetown community concerning socially responsible divestment.

When explaining the committee’s reasons for rejecting the proposal, Feinerman pointed out the complexity of the issue as well as the monetary problems involved. He also emphasized the thoughtful and serious consideration the committee gave on the proposal.

The official CISR report to the Committee on Finance and Administration states that it carefully reviewed and researched each proposal and considered many options for divestment. Although Georgetown will not completely divest, the report offers alternative recommendations.

These recommendations include:

  • Targeted divestment from fossil fuel companies with the worst environmental records and most objectionable practices.
  • Shareholder collaboration with energy companies to reduce their environmental impact and change harmful practices.
  • Thoughtful engagement with other universities and non-profit organizations to sustain public pressure to reduce environmental harm and to develop alternative sources of energy.

The committee will also seek to collaborate with university departments that focus on climate change, sustainability, and global warming to continue progressing towards divestment as well as annually review the impact of Georgetown’s divestment efforts.

This rejection comes after GUFF invested two years planning and presenting proposals. It submitted its first proposal to the committee members in May of 2013, and it continued to refine its proposal through the summer and fall of that same year. GUFF then offered its final proposal in August of 2014.

GUFF issued a statement expressing its frustration and shortly after the CISR decision became public. “The CISR’s decision not to support full divestment is disappointing…Partial divestment is an insufficient tactic, and, in light of the challenges at hand, is ideologically inconsistent with the CISR’s mandate to align Georgetown’s investments with its ethical standards.”

The statement emphasized GUFF’s concerns that since the University is not taking this initial step towards divestment, its further efforts to create more sustainable and environmentally friendly decisions will be compromised. The group stresses immediate, direct action.

GUFF member Annie Wang (COL ‘16) echoes this belief in the statement saying, “I don’t think the CISR is actually recognizing the broad range of moral concerns associated with our University’s investments in fossil fuels, nor the real dangers of climate change. These require urgent and visionary action.”

Despite the proposal’s rejection, GUFF will not give up or let this setback stop their efforts. Their twitter account clearly presents their determination when it says: “This movement isn’t stopping, and neither are we #fossilfree #divest”.


Photo: Georgetown University Fossil Free via WordPress

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