The UM system has an estimated $10 million system-wide investment in the fossil fuel industry. Fossil Free UMKC, a new student group on campus, is aiming to change that.
The group is calling for a complete divestment from fossil fuels by raising student awareness and bringing the issue to the attention of the UM Board of Curators.
Environmental studies major Geneva Tilbury transferred from the University of Southern California-Santa Cruz to UMKC, and after doing some research, decided to start the group.
Tilbury found that the UM system schools in Kansas City, St. Louis, Rolla and Columbia had an estimated $10 million invested into fossil fuels and put into an endowment. This was first pointed out by MEAC, the Mizzou Energy Action Coalition, who Tilbury has been in touch with since last year.
When asked why divesting from fossil fuels is important, Tilbury listed off several issues like climate change, reducing carbon emissions and social justice issues affecting low-income and minority populations.
They were also quick to point out the importance of reinvesting in and establishing “a local green economy that will create jobs and focus on sustainability at the same time.”
The push for fossil fuel divestment isn’t bound to Missouri schools.
A 2018 report released by the Global Fossil Fuel Divestment and Clean Energy Investment Movement said close to 1,000 institutional investors with $6.24 trillion in assets have committed to divest from fossil fuels. That number was only $52 billion in 2014—a 12,000 percent increase.
There’s no denying that Missouri isn’t quite California when it comes to addressing environmental or climate issues. Tilbury has seen this first hand. The University of California (UC) system has sold approximately $150 million of its holdings in fossil fuels since a shift to sustainable investments began in September 2014.
Since then, UC has invested in sustainable agriculture, developmental infrastructure and climate infrastructure. “Fossil Free UC” began in 2012.
Tilbury said the plan is to get all four UM schools together to promote their efforts and apply pressure from all directions.
Along with circulating petitions and holding regular meetings, Tilbury wants to pass a student government resolution at UMKC and get the chancellor to join their cause.
Tilbury is continuously inspired by the momentum growing behind the fossil free movement since 2011.
“With multiple institutions divesting, with the movement becoming more visible, that’s where change happens, and we should be a part of that,” said Tilbury.
For more information, check out the group’s Facebook page or go to gofossilfree.org.
Fossil Free UMKC meets every second and fourth Monday at noon in Miller Nichols Library room 106A.