Petrochemical fire Hurricane Laura

A chemical fire burns at a facility during the aftermath of Hurricane Laura on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, near Lake Charles, La.

Desmond Tutu once said, "people of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change."

To the Office of the President, LSU Board of Trustees and LSU Foundation:

We, the LSU Climate Pelicans, are calling for the university's financial investments to better reflect the values of the LSU community. We are not acting alone but as part of an international movement calling for the divestment of university endowment funds from the fossil fuel industry to be reinvested in more ethical endeavors.

Over 1,300 institutions have already boldly revoked the fossil fuel industry's social license and anticipate sustainable economic progress. According to a study published this year in the journal "Nature," 60% of oil and natural gas and 90% of coal reserves need to remain unextracted to avoid the most detrimental impacts of climate change. Yet, the fossil fuel industry has demonstrated no intention of keeping these reserves in the ground and is actively seeking new environments to exploit.

With these facts in mind, we call for LSU's immediate divestment action.

The fossil fuel industry is a crooked sector that has chosen Louisiana as a sacrifice zone for its economic profit. Hurricanes, floods, wetland loss and oil spills have plagued this state since before any of our lifetimes; in the wake of Hurricane Ida, it is indisputable that an alarming increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters is inextricably linked to climate change.

This industry also propagates racial injustice and inequity, which this university has deservedly taken a stance against in the past year. Cancer Alley, that infamous stretch of fossil fuel industrial complexes connecting Baton Rouge and New Orleans, has been a center of racial and environmental injustice since the 1960s and continues to endanger Black communities today.

In divesting the university's endowment from environmental racism, our school can advocate against the marginalization of communities of color and demonstrate our solidarity with their welfare.

We cannot continue our complicity. It is unethical to invest money in extractive practices that perpetuate climate change-induced catastrophes, especially when our state feels the environmental and social impacts most heavily.

Our lives are at risk because of the fossil fuel industry's recklessness, so why should the university continue to finance them? To that end, our request is simple:

  1. First, divest the endowment funds within an actionable timeline from companies that engage in anti-climate lobbying or extract, refine, develop, own or sell fossil fuel resources.
  2. Second, reinvest endowment funds in carbon-free energy investments and those congruent with the university's values and its faculty, staff, students and alumni. 

The LSU Climate Pelicans propose a collaborative conversation to guide LSU's endowment toward more ethical investments. There are so many other investment opportunities that do not put the entire globe at risk, and we would be pleased to discuss these with you.

LSU has an opportunity to accelerate climate justice as a flagship university in the fossil-fueled Gulf South during a time of deepening climate crisis and encroaching ecological and social tipping points. LSU would not be alone, as Tulane University and even the city of New Orleans itself have already made steps toward fossil fuel divestment. The state of Louisiana has also already made commitments toward near-future emissions reductions—Gov. John Bel Edwards has pledged significant emissions reductions by 2030 and complete carbon neutrality by 2050.  

We call on LSU to meet the moment and engage in this conversation. We only have five years left to prevent the 1.5 degrees Celsius warmings linked to irreversible consequences of global climate change.

All over the globe, young people agonize that time is not on our side, but we hope that you will be as we plan for a livable future.

The LSU Climate Pelicans are an interdisciplinary group committed to advancing climate justice in Louisiana. Sign our petition here.

To join our conversation, please contact the following LSU Climate Pelicans: 

Jill Tupitza: jtupit1@lsu.edu

Benjamin Farmer: bfarme8@lsu.edu

Corinne Salter: csalte4@lsu.edu

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