Heeding recent calls from the Catholic Church for faith-based institutions to fight a growing ecological crisis, St. Thomas’ Board of Trustees formally approved on Nov. 4 a university commitment to divest from fossil fuels.
The commitment officially marks St. Thomas joining a global movement of Catholic institutions that are divesting from fossil fuels in an effort to bring Pope Francis’ encyclical letter – Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home – to life. St. Thomas, which recently committed to participate in the Vatican’s new Laudato Si’ Action Platform, is currently working to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035 as part of its latest five-year strategic plan.
“The University of St. Thomas has a long-standing commitment to carbon neutrality, which means we must not only be responsible for our direct emissions but also think about the impact of our investments,” said St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan. “A major pillar of our commitment to the common good is caring for God’s creation, and joining this movement to not only divest from fossil fuels but invest in solutions such as renewable energy is in line with that mission.”
The newly approved university policy states St. Thomas will, in the next five years, divest from public securities of any company whose primary business is exploring or extracting fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. It will also divest from private company investments in the next 10 years, while not making any new investments in fossil fuel companies. This is also in line with St. Thomas’ new Socially Responsible Investing Policy, which seeks to pursue investments consistent with advancing the common good. The policy’s principles include investments that promote diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as environmental sustainability.
St. Thomas is in the midst of implementing its first universitywide sustainability strategic plan, an arrangement of campuswide initiatives and goals developed with deep consultation across campus. The university has been listed in the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges for the past four years.
For more news about St. Thomas sustainability initiatives, visit: https://news.stthomas.edu/sustainability-and-environment/