When the fossil fuel divestment campaign began at Bowdoin in the fall of 2012, it was comprised of a handful of people in a sub-group of Green Bowdoin Alliance. Now, entering the third year of the campaign, we’ve garnered the support of over 70 faculty members and 1,200 students.

In February, 13 members of Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) traveled to Washington, D.C., to take part in an action against the Keystone XL pipeline. In September, more than 100 students from across the Bowdoin community joined over 400,000 others at the People’s Climate March in New York City. 

On October 17, after two years of campaigning, we presented our case for divestment to the Board of Trustees. We’ve come a long way, and we’re only moving forward.

The growth of the movement has spread well beyond Bowdoin. We’re one of over 400 schools internationally with campaigns for fossil fuel divestment. Already, 14 colleges have chosen their own paths to divestment, including Unity College, Pitzer College and the University of Glasgow. In May, Stanford committed to divest its $18.7 billion endowment from direct holdings in coal.

 From cities and churches to research institutes, funds totaling over $50 billion have been divested. Even the Rockefeller Brothers Fund—a fund built on oil money—recently began divesting from fossil fuels. 

Just this week, Cambridge Associates, an investment consulting firm and longtime critic of divestment, introduced a pathway to fossil free investing. Support for the movement is rising, and pathways to divestment will continue to become more accessible. 

This is all to say that the divestment movement at Bowdoin is not happening in a vacuum.
We are not under the impression that the loss of investments from Bowdoin alone will cripple the fossil fuel industry, but divestment becomes a powerful tool when understood in a broader context. 

By focusing on the direct link between educational institutions and the fossil fuel industry, divestment offers a pathway to break through political gridlock. 

The goal of divestment is to catalyze bold political action addressing climate change, and to publicly stigmatize the fossil fuel industry. In light of the midterm elections, it has become more pressing than ever to find means of initiating climate action. 

We can agree that climate change is not a temporary issue, and its impacts are only becoming more widespread. Likewise, the climate movement is here to stay and is only going to get stronger. BCA is looking to the future, and is dedicated to continuing the discussion of climate justice on campus with the arrival of the next president. 

With the long-term trends of fossil fuel commodities, we believe that divestment is not only a moral but also a financial imperative. We do not support divestment at the expense of financial aid, but believe that the two are not mutually exclusive. There is no one pathway to achieve divestment. It can be done in a number of ways, and Bowdoin should pursue it’s own, with the input of its community of original, critical thinkers. We will continue the discussion of divestment on campus and work with the Bowdoin community to make the college a more sustainable and ideologically consistent institution.

With the direction things are moving, climate change is a problem that is not only permanent, but will be more and more present. You can expect the same thing from BCA.  

Allyson Gross and Julia Mead are members of the Class of 2016. Adam Hunt is a member of the Class of 2017.