Students to make a case for UNC to divest in coal
Students from the UNC Beyond Coal Campaign, will get a chance Wednesday to make the case for coal divestment before the university’s Board of Trustees.
It’s a major victory for the campaign, which was denied the opportunity to present its case to the board in March.
“We continued to contact the administration, and [Trustee] Steve Lerner finally contacted us, we met with him and he finally pushed it through,” said campaign spokeswoman Erin McAnulty.
Before the meeting, students will rally at Wilson Library at 1 p.m., then march to the Carolina Inn where the board holds its meeting.
Students will ask the board’s Finance and Infrastructure Committee to move the university’s endowment holdings out of the coal industry and into clean energy.
McAnulty said students will also ask the board to create a working committee to develop strategies to divest the $2.2 billion endowment from coal.
In recent years, coal has been a big topic on the UNC campus. In addition to the efforts by the Beyond Coal Campaign, the university has pledged to stop burning coal at its cogeneration power plant by May 2020, citing concern about the impact on the environment and on the health of residents who live near the plant.
Last year, the Student Congress at UNC voted 24-6 in favor of a resolution asking the university to divest its endowment for coal mining and coal-fired utility companies.
The approval of that resolution by the 30-member Student Congress, which represents nearly 30,000 students at UNC, came just weeks after 77 percent of students who marked ballots in campus elections voted in favor of a non-binding referendum supporting coal divestment.
The effort at UNC is part of a larger movement taking place at more than 300 campuses across the country, including all eight Ivy League schools and many of UNC’s peers.
While groups on other campuses have called on their universities to divest from other fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas in addition to coal, the effort at UNC is focused on coal because it’s the most carbon intensive.