Sunday, November 10, 2013

George Homsy, Arts and Sciences, 1986

I understand that divestment is difficult. Oil and gas companies have become tightly woven into our quality of life and our finances. Extricating ourselves will be difficult, but the university must make a start. It is a moral imperative with practical and educational outcomes that are crucial.

Yet, as we call on Tufts to divest, each of us must also move to a more sustainable lifestyle. When students take their first job, they should choose live close to work and drive less (or walk, bus, or bike). Hang our clothes out to dry instead of using a machine to handle what the sun and wind do well. Buy or rent, and thus heat, a smaller house/apartment. No excuses. If we call on Tufts to divest, which it should, we can do no less ourselves.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

John Subranni, Arts and Sciences, 2010

As a law student studying international environmental and human rights law, I believe that universities can add a critical, forward-thinking view to the climate issue. Our actions today will have large-scale humanitarian impacts felt around the world - and it's already happening.

Tufts seeks to graduate responsible global citizens, and it's time that it starts acting like one.  

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rev. Dr. William Gardiner, Arts and Sciences, 1967

As graduate of Crane Theological School at Tufts University I am deeply concerned about the impact of global warming on all life forms on God's beautiful creation. I am working with others in the faith community to divest funds in church endowments from fossil fuel industries. I hope that Tufts will join with other college communities to provide moral leadership for this crucial issue. The human future is in peril because we have released so much carbon into the atmosphere.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cyrus Kharas, Arts and Sciences, 2008

This is a critical step to ensuring that Tufts' financial practices align with the values that all new students aspire to foster, current students work to develop, and alumni proudly share.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Joelle Biele, Art and Sciences, 1991

Tufts should divest from fossil fuel companies they way it did in 1989 when it divested from companies doing business in South Africa.  It is an urgent global environmental and economic matter.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Jennifer Baldwin, Arts and Sciences, 2005

It was Tufts that originally inspired me to use my career to address climate change. Through courses like Environmental Biology, I first learned about the problem. I went on to learn about solutions through courses at UEP, work with the Tufts Climate Initiative, and participation in the environmental student group ECO. Today, I work in Washington on international climate policy and finance. I have Tufts to thank for getting me started down this path.

Tufts was an early university leader on climate change and sustainability, but it has fallen behind others since the days of the Talloires Declaration. Divesting from fossil fuels would be a symbol that environmental (and social) responsibility is still at the core of Tufts DNA. Given increasing student interest in the topic, it would serve the university well to take a positive stance on this. Switching investments around wouldn't necessarily result in decreased revenues for the university anyway. 

I strongly urge Tufts to divest from the largest 200 fossil fuel companies so that the university practices what it preaches.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stephanie Kaplan, Arts and Sciences, 1994

Thank you to the current students at Tufts for keeping this alive! We were bringing this up during my years at Tufts 1990-1994. It appears the current President and Board are paying attention and I commend everyone involved. I'm just sorry it's been nearly 20 years and now we have reached the 400 ppm mark for CO2. Please keep up the good work - we must do all we can!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Susie Meserve, Arts and Sciences, 1995

Last fall, I heard Bill McKibben speak in Berkeley, where I now live, and I got excited to start divestment talks at Tufts. Some life stuff intervened and I return to the cause several months later to find this campaign. I'm thrilled. Go Tufts! In 1993 and 1994 I participated in the divestment campaign from James Bay. We did it then, and we can do it now. We MUST do it now.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Jed Holtzman, Arts and Sciences, 1999

Climate change endangers all aspects of our global civilization, not to mention other species.  Institutions divested from South Africa during apartheid, and that "only" doomed a whole lot of people, not EVERYONE as does climate change.  This is a no-brainer.

Daniel Wong, Arts and Sciences, 2009

We are running out of time.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rebecca Batorsky, Arts and Sciences, 2012

Universities like Tufts are already educating students about thinking globally and about the danger of climate change. It's time to put these ideas into action and take steps to build a sustainable society.

Divestment is just the beginning!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lerone Lessner, Arts and Sciences, 2004

While I think that the financial impact of divestment campaigns are most often quite limited, I believe that it is important that fossil fuel companies understand that they do NOT have the support of the public - and this should include Tufts' alumni!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Patrick Andriola, Arts and Sciences, 2011

As a proud Jumbo, I'm completely shocked that Tufts would be actively complicit in one of the greatest existential threats to our species. 

I pledge not to donate a single penny to the university until there is complete divestment from fossil fuel stocks and bonds. I also pledge to make a donation the second complete divestment is realized.

David Pomerantz, Arts and Sciences, 2007

I'm very proud of my Tufts education. Tufts was the place where I learned how to be an active citizen, a person with a just vision for the world, and with the courage to work to make that vision a reality. 

Now, Tufts has the opportunity to create that reality for many people beyond The Hill. If the Tufts Board of Trustees wants to stand behind the values that have served so many students well over the years - including me - it must divest from the fossil fuels that are causing catastrophic global warming. 

This is our school's chance to lead. Let's do it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rae Jones, Arts and Sciences, 2003

Tufts has a history of divestment. Divestment from apartheid, nuclear weapons companies and Hydro Quebec are all parts of Tufts history. This is no different. It's time for Tufts to be an active citizen of the world and stop supporting the destruction of our environment and our future. 

Tufts: Divest Now!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Alexander Bayne, Arts and Sciences, 2007

Tufts University shames us all by investing in companies whose business interests run counter to Tufts' stated ethical principles on global citizenship.  Investments are not morally neutral, and I urge Tufts to be more careful about selecting investments which our students faculty staff and alumni can be proud of and which move us into a 21st century free of fossil fuels.

Katherine Bloom, Arts and Sciences, 2001

As a contributing alumni, I pledge to withhold all future personal financial contributions to Tufts University until this path to divestment has begun.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jason Merges, Arts and Sciences, 2011

I am very excited about this movement. Tufts University is an amazing place where social responsibility is taught as a virtue, something that definitely inspired me to work on environmental and social causes while I was there, and pursue them when I graduated. Divesting from fossil fuels is an important bound forward for an institution that promotes its students to think about how they can use their education to have an impact on the world around them, and align this institution's actions with its philosophies, undeniably an extremely important step forward.

Sarabeth Buckley, Arts and Sciences, 2012

I am so happy that advances are being made to help Tufts divest from fossil fuel investments. I sincerely feel that this is one of the most important actions Tufts can take as a university to help its students. Climate change is a serious issue that is threatening the future of all the students Tufts is working so hard to help educate. The biggest tool that all of these companies have is money and they are using it to corrupt our government and prevent any progress from being made on addressing climate change. That's why removing funding from these companies is one of the most important actions Tufts can take to protect its students. It will send a strong message. I loved attending Tufts and would love to contribute, but I will not contribute until Tufts divests. I hope that Tufts divests as soon as possible.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kate Whitman, Arts and Sciences, 2001

I was heartened to learn that the Board of Trustees Investment Committee recently met with Tufts students to discuss the possible divestment of approximately $70 million (~5% of endowment funds) from the fossil fuel industry.   Had I been able to attend with my newly born son, I would have been there to show my support!  When initially signing this petition, my comments were, "As a contributing alumni, I pledge to withhold all future personal financial contributions to Tufts University until this path to divestment has begun."  I expect that Tufts will fully divest from fossil fuel companies, and perhaps turn attention and investments towards renewable energy and strategies for our future planetary success.  Please know that I will be MORE inclined to contribute to Tufts when I see our university leading in this way.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Michael Kramer, Arts and Sciences, 1988

Dear President Monaco and Members of the Board,

I am a Tufts alum (A’88) and am now an Accredited Investment Fiduciary and Managing Partner and Director of Social Research at Natural Investments, a leading national investment adviser in the field of sustainable, responsible, and impact (SRI) investing since 1985. In addition to investing client assets, I serve on the national policy committee of USSIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, which is the national trade association for the SRI industry that represents 11% (nearly $4 trillion) of all professionally managed investments in the markets. 

I was contacted recently by current Tufts students in response to my most recent monthly column (The Sustainable Shareholder) about the fossil fuel divestment campaign.  I am well aware that Tufts does not have an Investment Social Policy that guides advisors and money managers on how to integrate values into the endowment’s investment portfolio, but I wish to convey that this is entirely possible, and there is precedent for it among other major American universities. Part of such a policy involves voting proxies and other forms of shareholder engagement that are possible through share ownership, but it also typically includes both exclusionary and affirmative screens on what may not be held in and should be sought out for the portfolio. While there can be many exclusionary screens (tobacco and gambling being common ones), there are literally dozens of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues that can guide such a policy. Money managers are therefore instructed to exclude certain industries, or companies that exhibit certain objectionable actions and policies, so that the portfolio better reflects the underlying values of the institution.

Large institutions such as pension plans and endowments can sometimes face challenges in coming to consensus regarding which ESG issues to integrate into the portfolio, but it is certainly doable. As such, I’d like to recommend that Tufts consider the possibility of divesting from fossil fuel companies in its portfolio. I understand that 1500 students have signed a petition calling for this action, and while I surely understand that the administration and trustees of a university shouldn’t always base their decisions on student sentiments, what is occurring in this nation, particularly among young people, is the frightening realization that planetary ecosystems are beginning to collapse in the face of rapid climate change. And yet, humanity, particular citizens of affluent countries such as the U.S., do not appear to be changing their ways in order to reduce carbon emissions. While many of the steps society needs to take in this realm are in the areas of renewable energy investment to power our grid and transportation systems, this will only occur if various forms of leverage are exerted. 

Governments can increase MPG standards, put a price on carbon and tax it, develop serious carbon sequestration programs, and develop emergency plans in the case of massive flooding or other sever climate events. But with Congress and the Administration largely unwilling to cease fossil fuel subsidies while allowing for the expansion of drilling operations in both sensitive ecosystems as well as inland areas that surround domestic drinking water supplies, market forces must also be used to persuade companies to pursue renewable sources of energy and gradually abandon fossil fuels. One way to do this is to lower the stock price of fossil fuel corporations so they will be pressured into changing course, and large-scale divestment can contribute to this. 

While I am a firm believer of using the power of share ownership to persuade companies to make voluntary shifts in direction, efforts my industry has made to get such companies to even acknowledge that climate change risk is real are not succeeding. Such companies continue to fund climate change science that denies the impact of human activity on climate change in order to justify business as usual. As with any shareholder ESG issue, when advocacy is unsuccessful, divestment is an appropriate alternative. Of course, there is no leverage with divestment if only a handful of shareholders divest, but as we saw in the ‘80s with the apartheid issue, momentum can build when universities, pension plans, and government treasuries act in unison. The divestment movement then helped to bring about the fall of the apartheid system in South Africa, and there is no reason to believe that such social change could not occur in this country, despite the fact that we all use fossil fuels in our everyday lives. 

The truth is that investing in the long-term financial viability of an industry that will gradually die is not prudent long-term investment practice. As an Accredited Investment Fiduciary, I could easily argue that investing in fossil fuels, given their current and potential impact on people and the planet, is a breach of fiduciary responsibility, since we know it will only destabilize societies and the economies upon which investment income derives. If we want to make money – and we do – we need to assure that our economies are growing and resilient; investing in carbon is the antithesis of this goal. Yes, we need to invest in renewable energy, but these industries face a competitive disadvantage as long as the fossil fuel industry remains strong. We can change this, but we need to be bold and unafraid. This is not a moral issue, it is a survival issue. And let’s face it, there are other very compelling ways to generate financial return for the Tufts endowment.

In conclusion, Tufts getting out in front of this issue could be a boon for fundraising. More and more investors are aligning their values with their investments to support what they believe in and steer clear of what they find distasteful. I’m sure there are other alumni like me who are not willing to support Tufts financially as long as it fails to make its investments transparent or ignore important ethical, social, and ecological issues with its endowment. Alumni do not want to support fossil fuels, so failure to divest continues to be a missed opportunity for the university. Alumni want Tufts to be a true “Light on the Hill” and not exploit people or the planet to fund its important mission of educating students. It is possible to make money and make a difference, and I encourage you to do so. As a national expert in this field, I stand ready to assist you should you desire my assistance.

Pax et lux,

Michael Kramer
Managing Partner

will withhold contributions until Tufts divests, and that alumni have a right to know where there money is going, and that alumni do not want to support the oil industry by donating to an endowment that is not invested responsibly.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Matthew Isles, Arts and Sciences, 2001

Divestment will not alone bring our nation's policies in line with what is needed to avert catastrophic climate disruption. Neither will it delineate the necessary adaptive courses we must pursue to cope with the climate disruption that is already baked into the planet's cake. Nor will divestment cause fossil fuel companies to reassess their business models, given the relatively small collective size of university endowment investments, the current profitability of that sector, and the growing influence of state-affiliated fossil fuel extractive and processing interests. 

However, divestment will send a powerful political message that aggressive political action is necessary to accomplish these aims. On the boards of trustees and in the administration of the myriad universities being targeted by fossil fuel divestment campaigns are civic, business, religious and opinion leaders. 

By alerting these figures that current students and graduates of the institutions they make decisions for are opposed to facilitating climate disruption through endowment investments in fossil fuel companies, two goals can be achieved. First, endowment funds can be redirected away from polluting fossil fuel companies and towards more sustainable energy companies in wind, solar and other sectors. Second, the influential leaders on trustee boards and administrative front offices may become convinced of the need to lobby their peers in government and business to seriously confront climate change through more aggressive policy. 

It is useful to recall to mind the Tufts motto, "Peace and Light." There is no question but that peace, the world over, will be threatened by a future shaped by climate disruption (in fact, the Pentagon has been projecting that for some years now). Further, to be a beacon of light from the Hill in Medford, Tufts must demonstrate the wisdom to follow a path towards a safer, sustainable future. 

Divestment is but one tool in the tool box of an effective campaign to address global warming, just as voting is but one tool in the tool box of democratic civic participation. Let us put the tool of divestment to work at Tufts University.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Matthew Heberger, Engineering, MS 2003

As a hydrologist and water manager, I deal with the consequences of climate change on a daily basis. A certain amount of climate change is unpreventable, but we can still avoid the worst impacts if the world's citizens and governments act now. As a world-class educational institution, I hope that Tufts will be at the forefront of the movement to pass on a livable planet to the next generation(s).

Michael Kramer, Arts and Sciences, 1988

I was active in 1984 at Tufts with the endowment divestment campaign against companies doing business in South Africa. Fossil fuels may be the apartheid of this generation. I'm happy to be an investment adviser leading the charge on this issue.