Divest Maine started in the fall semester of 2012 at the University of Southern Maine. We are calling on the University of Maine System Board of Trustees to divest the $133 million endowment from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies. These 200 companies hold the vast majority of the world’s untapped coal, oil and gas reserves.
Global warming is a reality. It is already affecting the lives of millions around the world today. Hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods: these are natural disasters that we hear about every day. They are also becoming more frequent and intense as global warming accelerates. Maine is not immune to these effects. Rising sea levels threaten to encroach upon our coastal towns and cities, ocean acidification has caused a sharp decline in shellfish population, and high levels of ozone and countless other toxic elements cause Maine to experience some of the highest rates of asthma in the nation.
Unless we act quickly to transition to a clean energy future, the lives of millions of people will be lost.
Higher education institutions, such as the University of Maine System, invest in their students’ futures yet simultaneously invests in fossil fuel corporations that are perpetuating climate change and jeopardizing the future of all living beings on our planet.
The top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel corporations own 2,795 gigatons of carbon in their untapped reserves, however, if we want to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (the upper “safe” limit set by the UN), we can only burn 20% of that amount (565 gigatons). The share prices of fossil fuel corporations are inflated by the illusion that all 2,795 gigatons of carbon in their reserves will be burnt and become profit, a scenario completely incompatible with any hope for a stable climate future. The University of Maine System thus puts its endowment at risk by investing in fossil fuel corporations whose value will plummet when the “carbon bubble” bursts.
Investing in fossil fuel corporations jeopardizes the moral and intellectual values of the University of Maine and does not truly serve the future of its students. By divesting from fossil fuel stocks, our institution will take a moral stand against corporations that are putting profit above the possibility for a clean and secure future for all.