U. of C. faculty to take on fossil fuel divestment

Staff Writer

Four University of Chicago faculty members will tackle the issue of U. of C. divestment from fossil fuels at an upcoming panel discussion.

The event, presented by the UChicago Climate Action Network (UCAN), will take place next Monday, May 19, from 6-8 p.m., at International House, 1414 E. 59th St.
Panelists include climate scientists Elisabeth Moyer and Raymond Pierrehumbert, National Opinion Research Center Senior Survey Director Ray Lodato and James Sallee, an assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy.

According to Sam Zacher, director for UCAN’s campaign Stop Funding Climate Change (SFCC), organizers sought to attract people of all persuasions and the event is meant to expand the conversation around divestment in fossil fuels at the U. of C.

“That’s mostly our goal,” Zacher said, adding that he wants people to understand the moral as well as financial arguments for divestment.

The call for the U. of C. to drop its investments in companies extracting fossil fuels has grown louder, with a student government referendum revealing 70 percent in favor of divestment and the presentation of a 58-page report by SFCC arguing its case to university President Robert Zimmer last February.

Similar movements have been making waves at other top universities. Stanford pledged last week to divest from coal mining companies, and a Harvard student was recently arrested by university police for blocking access to administration offices while protesting the school’s fossil fuel investments.

A student will moderate next Monday’s discussion, which will later be opened up to questions from the audience. The moderator’s questions will revolve around the four arguments for divestment in SFCC’s February report: financial, scientific, moral and institutional.

Lodato, who teaches three U. of C. courses on environmental law and policy, called divestment a good position for the university to take.

“I think it reflects an understanding of the research and the science that’s going on about climate change,” he said.

For more information about the discussion, ihouse.uchicago.edu. To find out more about the divestment movement at the U. of C., visit uchicagoclimate.wordpress.com.