Student sign pledge of disobedience in response to University’s continuing investment in fossil fuels

Oct. 7, 2015, 11:48 p.m.

As of noon on Wednesday, 51 Stanford students signed a pledge written by Fossil Free Stanford pledging to participate in civil disobedience due to the University’s continued investment in oil and gas industries.

The threat comes in advance of the U.N.’s upcoming climate negotiations in Paris at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-21). According to the Fossil Free Stanford press release, if Stanford’s Board of Trustees does not divest from fossil fuels before COP-21 in December, the signatories of the pledge “will take nonviolent direct action in order to demonstrate the urgency with which Stanford must divest if it is to make a maximal impact.”

Fossil Free Stanford, which began working on the University’s divestment from coal three years ago, presented their case to “divest the rest” in front of the Special Committee on Investment Responsibility (SCIR) of the Stanford Board of Trustees on Monday, Oct. 5.  

In the written text of the letter read aloud to the SCIR, Fossil Free Stanford recognizes the contributions that the University has made overall to fighting climate change – including faculty research and investment into a new energy generation strategy – but argues that more must be done.

“[Stanford’s] actions regularly do change the world,” the letter reads. “Following Stanford’s coal divestment announcement, a wave of divestments cited Stanford’s logic and action… On the floor of the California Senate last month, President Pro Tempore Kevin De Leon cited Stanford’s divestment as he argued for his bill, now law, encouraging divestment of CalPERS, the fifth largest mutual fund on the planet.”

Although it is currently unclear what Fossil Free’s intended act of civil disobedience would consist of, the group’s website indicates that the details of the action will be shared with participants in the coming weeks if no change is made by the SCIR.

Members of Fossil Free Stanford assert that Stanford has a responsibility to act before the COP-21.

“Because of the urgency of producing an international agreement in Paris, it is the responsibility of leading U.S. institutions to equip the U.S. negotiators with clear evidence that the country’s civil society is ready to close the door on the future of fossil fuels,” said Josh Lappen ’17, the faculty liaison of the organization.


Contact Ada Throckmorton at adastat ‘at’


Ada Statler '18 is an earth systems major hailing from Kansas City (on the Kansas side, not Missouri). She's most passionate about environmental journalism, but cares about all things campus-related.

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