23rd September, 2016
Fossil Free Yale University have applauded the recent decision by the University of Otago Council to exclude fossil
fuels from their investment portfolio.
Recognising the need for ongoing international action to mitigate global warming, students from the Yale Fossil Fuel
Divestment group wrote: “We applaud Harlene Hayne, the Vice Chancellor of Otago University, for facilitating this
important moral action”.
“We expect the University of Auckland Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon to take a stand on divestment too. Committing to
not invest in fossil fuels is committing to invest in the future of humanity. Yale students are leaders and we urge the
University of Auckland to join us in climate leadership.”
Yale student Emma Phelps added: “Climate change is an international issue of the utmost importance. This crisis requires
leadership from all nations, and I hope to continue to see New Zealand Universities rising to the challenge.”
In April 2016, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon spoke at a colloquium of University Presidents at Yale in
April of 2016 and was confronted by Yale students about his position on fossil fuel divestment.
Ban Ki-Moon reiterated his support not only for fossil fuel divestment, but for the students at college and universities
who have been engaging in activism to push their institutions towards that decision.
As the New Haven Register reported, “Ban told the students ‘you have a legitimate right to challenge your community and
leaders’ because, from their perspective, students can say, ‘This is my world. This is the place where I’ll have to
live, my children will have to live. Please make my world sustainable, economically, socially.’”
Fossil Free Yale member Mary Claire Whelan further commented, “With the endorsement of leaders like Ban Ki-Moon, it
becomes increasingly clear that fossil fuel divestment is a morally necessary step.”
“Climate change is the biggest moral dilemma of our time, especially in the way that is disproportionately impacts
Globally, over 500 institutions, representing over $3.4 trillion USD, have divested from the fossil fuel industry due to
pressure from the divestment movement — led by 350.org
In New Zealand the list of divested institutions includes Victoria University, The Anglican Church of Aotearoa, The
Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, Dunedin City Council, Otago University, and the Otago University Foundation Trust.
Universities and Colleges in the United States have divested as well, notably Stanford University from coal in 2014, and
the University of Massachusetts system in 2016. Yale University has divested $10 Million worth of stock in thermal coal
and tar sands, but has not yet made further commitments to divestment.
“The impressive actions of American Indian peoples in the prevention of the North Dakota Access Pipeline are additional
proof that the fossil fuel industry is an industry of the past, whose exploitative and dangerous practices will no
longer be tolerated,” said Yale Student Phoebe Chatfield.
“It is imperative that Universities show solidarity and leadership, and refuse to invest in companies like those
involved in the building of this pipeline. I look forward to seeing this leadership from the University of Auckland.”
We hope Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon will soon address divestment from fossil fuels. Fossil Free Yale challenge him
to choose leadership and choose divestment.