University System of Maryland to direct its endowment away from fossil fuels
The Baltimore Sun reported on USM's recent commitment to stop investing in fossil fuels, energy sources that contribute to climate change and polluting emissions. The article states "The foundation that oversees the state university system's $1 billion endowment said Tuesday that it will stop investing directly in coal, oil and natural gas companies — a victory for a student-led movement to direct more of the portfolio toward clean energy.
The University System of Maryland Foundation, which helps fund scholarships, endowed professorships and more, said it would sign on to a United Nations pledge to be more socially aware in its investments, and appoint a staff person to identify opportunities in renewable energy." They also stated:
"It's because of the students and the positions they took that caused us to focus on it this year," said Leonard Raley, president and CEO of the foundation. "But the world is changing and we're paying attention to it. We're concerned about climate change and I think the actions that our foundation took reflect that."
"More than ever climate change is affecting the lives and livelihoods of people around the world," said Lindsay Meiman, a spokeswoman for 350.org. "With the impact of climate change hitting harder every day, we need everyone to do everything in their power to do everything they can to address this crisis."
"Maya Spaur, a member of the Student Government Association at the University of Maryland, College Park, said students who organized for the shift were pleased with the announcement, but wanted to see the foundation focus on direct investments in clean energy companies and shift away from investments in indexes that may include fossil fuel stocks.
"I thought it was definitely progress," said Spaur, 20, of Mount Airy. But "we need to keep pushing further if we really want to be a green model for the nation."
Students at College Park began the push to divest from fossil fuels in 2013, circulating a petition with nearly 600 signatures from students at Towson University, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and other colleges."
Students have been at the leading edge of calling for action on climate change for many years, including successfully lobbying all USM presidents to sign on to the "American Colleges and Universities President's Climate Commitment.