Catholic university divests from fossil fuels

University of Dayton is largest endowment fund to completely reject fossil fuel investments so far

Pic: dailycollegian/Flickr

Pic: dailycollegian/Flickr

By Sophie Yeo

A Catholic university with an endowment fund of US$ 670 million has said it will no longer invest in fossil fuels.

The University of Dayton, based in Ohio, is the wealthiest university to completely divest from fossil fuels so far, following its announcement that it would withdraw all funding from the 200 companies that hold the largest coal, oil and gas reserves.

Stanford University, with a $18.7 billion endowment fund, pledged to divest in May, but this only applied to coal, which is the dirtiest of the three fossil fuels.

“Earlier this year, Pope Francis said ‘if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us,’” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of climate campaign group

“It’s very good news to see Catholic institutions starting to put his wisdom into effective practice, and stand up to the powers that are trying to profit at the expense of all who depend on the proper working of this good earth.”

University President Daniel J. Curran said that the move was “consistent with Catholic social teachings.”

As well as starving fossil fuel companies of funds, divestment campaigners say that it will help to stigmatise the industry – an idea which was supported by a report from the University of Oxford last year.

The divestment movement has garnered widespread support among religious communities and institutions. Over than thirty churches, congregations, or dioceses have committed to remove their fund from fossil fuels, including the Quakers in the UK.

Dayton University is the thirteenth university to make such a commitment.

“This is a complex issue, but Catholic higher education was founded to examine culture and find ways to advance the common good. Here is one way to lead as a good steward of God’s creation,” said Michael Galligan-Stierle, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

The Pope is said to be working on an encyclical expressing his ideas on man and nature, which the UN has indicated it will harness in its own efforts to combat climate change.

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