Climate Justice Renews Call for Divestment After Hottest June on Record

Climate Justice @ Boston College is renewing its call for divestment after last month was reported to be the "hottest June ever."

CJBC is continuing to gather support for an ongoing petition advocating for the divestment of BC’s endowment from the fossil fuel industry. The group posted the petition to its Facebook page Tuesday, calling on the university to take action after this past June broke the record for high temperatures.

"BC must stop pretending that by remaining invested in fossil fuel companies it can somehow persuade execs to magically end their entire raison d'être," read the post. "Divestment is the kind of bold action we need. It is long past time for Boston College to step up to the plate, but YOU can join our movement RIGHT NOW."

The petition is addressed to university President Father Leahy and the board of trustees. It cites the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring as a result of carbon emissions and refers to statements from the Catholic Church deeming climate change a “moral issue."

"Boston College has argued that it believes it can do more good by persuading fossil fuel executives to pursue sustainability than it could by divesting from these companies, but any reasonable person knows that is ridiculous," said Kayla Lawlor, MCAS '20 and a member of CJBC.

The petition, at more than 2.500 signatures from members of the BC community, has been circulated since the group's earliest days on campus.

"We shared this petition because it is important that BC knows they are not only on the wrong side of history, but opposed to the majority of its students and alumni," Lawlor said. "Boston College and its Board of Trustees have the chance - right now - to show us they aren’t lying when they claim to care about human lives and Jesuit values."

The petition calls for the administration to step in and “immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies, and divest within five years from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds.”

It also urges BC to join other Jesuit universities, like Gonzaga and Seattle University, who have already taken steps to cut financial ties with the fossil fuel industry.

However, while Lawlor says the petition has garnered “the consistent support of students, faculty, alumni, organizations, and other allies,” the official response from BC has been lacking. Faced with countless instances of administrators ignoring phone calls and refusing to set up meetings, CJBC remains committed to convincing the Board of Trustees to divest.

Lawlor describes “persistence” as the greatest tool against an “unresponsive and unaccountable administration.”

"Dealing with this administration, or in better words, speaking at this administration, feels as though Boston College willfully enjoys creating a culture of disrespect and apathy," she added. "Every year at commencement, Fr. Leahy preaches the need to engage in dialogue and the hope that we will pursue conversation. Well, we’re waiting."

CJBC has not been alone in the fight for divestment. UGBC has put forth two resolutions and one referendum on the issue, in which 83% of respondents supported divestment from fossil fuels. However, financial ties to fossil fuel companies mean the administration routinely ignores its students' cries for change, according to Lawlor.

Looking toward the future, Lawlor reiterated the scientific research indicating that there is a twelve year window before the current rate of carbon emissions produce irreparable damage to the climate.

“Renewables are our only hope for a sustainable and just future and it would be a stain on this institution for it to wait behind until it has no other choice.”

CJBC encourages interested students to sign the petition and join the group and its fight against climate change.

"If everyone waited to speak out against climate change until they had personally stopped using all fossil fuels, we wouldn’t be talking about climate change today," said CJBC member Aaron Salzman, MCAS '20.

According to Lawlor, the best a student can do is refuse to stop caring, stay educated about the issue and do whatever they can to advocate for the necessary systemic change.

"At this point, the university has been very clear that it will not take the side of climate justice. That does not mean we can stop demanding that justice, or that it’s futile to get involved. Just the opposite," said Lawlor. "We will not take apathy as an answer."