Climate Concerns and Climate Action

This week young people around the world are making their voices heard in leading a chorus of concern about the catastrophic dangers of climate change. On Friday, Sept. 20 many will be engaged in a climate strike – breaking from their regular routines to call attention to the importance of changing the way we use the earth’s resources. Here on campus, faculty are organizing events to raise awareness about the threat posed by climate change. Others, including students, will travel to New York to participate in workshops and lectures on these issues in relation to social justice organized by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, of which Wesleyan’s College of the Environment is a founding member.

Over the years, students have urged the University to change its investment policies in response to the climate crisis. I am pleased to report that the Investment Committee of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees has voted to eliminate any permanent allocation to “oil and gas” from its asset allocation model. What does this mean? It means that Wesleyan will no longer seek out managers specifically to invest in oil and gas in order to balance its portfolio as a whole. This is a significant step, as the University had previously sought to invest around 7 percent of its endowment in this sector. Furthermore, any new investment managers hired must meet our ethics, governance and social responsibility expectations. As stated now in our guidelines: “in selecting external managers or considering direct investments,” the Investment Committee will “consider environmental, social and governance factors as part of their investment process.” Just as we aim to reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy on campus, I expect we will steadily reduce our dependence on fossil fuels investments in the endowment.

Plans at Wesleyan for the day of climate action on Friday, Sept. 20 are still taking shape, but here are some of the scheduled events:

  • 12–2 p.m. Global Climate Rally (Usdan courtyard): Speeches by student groups and other members of the Wesleyan community, followed by an on-campus march.
  • 4:30 p.m. (Exley 150): Climate Rant by Professor of Physics Brian Stewart (who will also convert his 1:20 p.m. class into a climate teach-in at Exley 150)
  • 6 p.m. (Church St. or Washington Ave.) Candle Light Vigil

During the following week, Sept. 23­–27, the COE will organize more teach-ins. On Sept. 25, the COE will host a discussion among students at Wesleyan, Taras Shevchenko University in Kiev, and Universidade do Sao Paulo about climate change and coordinated action among young people.

More program information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pg/wesleyancoe/events/.

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