Fossil fuels divestment march set for UW-Madison

A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni is urging divestment from fossil fuels and reinvestment in renewable energy.

An open letter, signed by more than 250 alumni and friends, will be presented to the UW Foundation on April 29 at 12:30 pm, following a march at the campus. Divestment activists will gather at Union South near Randall Street at noon on April 29 and then march to the UW Foundation, at 1848 University Ave.

There, UW alumni will present a simulated check representing $7,000 in donations diverted from the foundation and invested instead in fossil-free funds through the Multi-School Divestment Fund.

UW alumna Judith Stadler, in a news release from 350 Madison Climate Action Team, said, “We who have signed the letter believe that continued investment in fossil fuels contradicts the University’s mission, which is to ‘…help ensure the survival of this and future generations and improve the quality of life for all.’ Continued investment in fossil fuels accomplishes the very opposite of the mission. It will lead to an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases above what scientists agree is a safe level for life as we know it.”

“The signatories of this open letter call on the governing board of the UW Foundation to divest from fossil fuels, especially coal and tar sands, ”added John Zinda of Providence, Rhode Island. and a 2013 graduate.

He’s one of many alumni from across the country helping to amplify student and faculty calls for divestment.

He said, “As a first step, we call on the board to meet with concerned alumni and students before their next board meeting to let us know what the UW Foundation has done to consider the issue of fossil fuel divestment and whether the board has reconsidered its stance in light of the steps toward divestment taken by Stanford, Yale and many smaller schools.”

More that 500 institutions representing more than $3.4 trillion in assets have committed to some form of fossil fuel divestment since the movement began in 2011.

In addition to signing the open letter, UW alumni have diverted contributions of more than $7,000 from the UW Foundation to the Multi-School Divestment Fund, a grassroots collaboration connecting donors to campus divestment efforts.

The total value of the fund, which has 30 participating campuses, is currently more than $50,000. Of that, more than $7,000 is earmarked for UW.

All donations have been steered away from universities with fossil fuel investments.

A growing chorus of students, alumni and parents are calling on universities to pull their investments from companies with practices are incompatible with the globally agreed upon 2° C maximum warming target.

UW-Madison will only receive the $7,000 in the UW-subaccount of the Divestment Fund if it divests from fossil fuels.

If a school has not divested from fossil fuels by December 31, 2017, all donations earmarked for that school will be split between schools that have committed to divestment from fossil fuel stocks.

The $7,000 represents diverted donations from more than 50 UW alumni, including actress Leah Garland and TV writer, Jill Soloway, who donated a walk-on role in her TV show, “Transparent,” to the highest bidder at a recent Climate Change auction.

“Oil and gas companies have known about climate change for decades and have buried the truth.” said Garland said. “Today, we know without doubt about the devastating effects of climate change, and we know that this is the moment to prevent the worsening of climate change given feedback loops. We have to do all we can to switch to renewables.”

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Learn more about the Multi-School Divestment Fund.