Georgetown University has announced that money from its endowment funds will no longer be invested in fossil fuels. The school also announced that it would divest from companies that deal in the same.
“The board of directors approval of divestment from fossil fuels in 2020 is the direct result of a multi-year engagement within the Georgetown community that included students, faculty and staff,” the university said in a statement.
When asked to comment on Georgetown’s move, Scott Lauermann, a spokesman for trade group American Petroleum Institute, said in an emailed statement, “Bold and achievable action on climate change at the global level is essential, and America’s natural gas and oil industry is part of the solution.”
Many students at the school have pushed the school to divest from fossil fuels investments, and the decision was announced on the same day that students voted on a referendum that, if passed, would make a symbolic call for divestment.
“We definitely were surprised that this decision came so quickly,” said Lucy Chatfield, a member of GU Fossil Free, a group that has fought for this change.
Chatfield, a sophomore at the university, said the group has been urging the school to make the change, because of the concerns about fossil fuels and climate change. It is only in the past couple weeks that Chatfield said the school really began working with them.
“We realized as we started pushing to have a student vote on divestment, we started getting more attention and communication from the university, and realized that this is something that they were considering,” Chatfield said.
Georgetown University isn’t the first university to make this move; the University of California announced last year that it would dump fossil fuel investments.
Students at other universities around the D.C. area have also pushed for the same. George Washington University President Thomas LeBlanc faced criticism and apologized earlier this week for an “insensitive” racial example he offered in response to a question about fossil fuels from a student.
Chatfield believes the decision by Georgetown will have a far-reaching impact.
“We think this is a big win for getting a fossil fuel divestment to spread across the country this year,” she said.