Who are we?
Decarbonize Duke is a sub-group of Duke Climate Coalition, a collective of undergraduate and graduate students who are passionate about making Duke an environmental leader. We are working to convince Duke administrators to commit to environmentally-responsible investing, solidifying Duke’s legacy as a climate-conscious institution.
Why is responsible investing critical?
By choosing to invest in environmentally-friendly companies and avoid especially harmful industries, Duke can affirm its commitment to decrease the university’s carbon footprint. By choosing to invest more responsibly, Duke would be impacting:
The Duke community has already begun to feel the impacts of global climate change. In addition to causing rising temperatures and sea levels, the change in our atmosphere contributes to storms like Florence and Michael, which devastated the North Carolina coast and affected many members of our community and their loved ones. We cannot treat climate change as an issue for the future: it is impacting us now, and without addressing the source of the problem, the impacts will continue to worsen. Duke must show its commitment to protecting our community and the global community at large through a critical analysis of our investment portfolio.
Climate change may very well be the greatest issue of our time, and when we look back on this critical time period it is imperative for Duke to be on the right side of history. Investing responsibly, whether through divestment from certain companies and impact investing in others, solidifies Duke’s legacy as a climate conscious institution. We ask that Duke take a stance and support companies doing their part to protect our planet, proving the university’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact.
Below you will find a series of memos and documents that Decarbonize Duke has utilized in our discussions with Duke administration.
What we’re working on + Updates
This fall, Decarbonize Duke secured the support of Duke Student Government, Graduate and Professional Student Council, and the Duke Investment Club. Each passed a resolution in support of divesting from some of the most harmful fossil fuel companies.
10/29/2018: Chronicle Article on Divestment Campaign
We plan on continuing to raise awareness on campus and beyond, engaging alumnae and faculty.
Seaver is a 5th year PhD. Candidate in the Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences in the Cassar Laboratory. His research involves using DNA sequencing to identify marine plankton species in the surface ocean and investigate how their abundances and distribution are linked to carbon and nutrient cycling. Seaver has been engaged with student environmental advocacy since high school, and has been involved with Duke Climate Coalition for four years and counting.
Ethan is a Senior pursuing a career at the intersection of social justice and environmental policy. He is especially interested in food and energy issues and their relation to larger climate and cultural problems. He has been working on various campaigns within the Duke Climate Coalition for four years and currently co-lead the Fossil Fuel Divestment Team. He is also the Co-President of Duke Political Union, an organization which seeks to increase dialogue between divisive groups. He bikes to school each day and won’t buy a car until he can afford an electric one. In his free time he loves playing guitar, cooking, hiking, skiing, and doing most anything else in the mountains. He plans to become an environmental lawyer and return to his home state of Colorado.
Grace is a freshman looking into International Comparative Studies and Visual Arts. She is inspired to take climate action after joining Citizens Climate Lobby, through which she has lobbied both in her hometown (Lynchburg, Virginia) and on Capitol Hill. She loves to read, run, and sleep. She dreams to write and illustrate children’s books and learn how to swim one day.
Emma Rose Shore
Emma Rose is a freshman studying environmental engineering and environmental policy from Dallas, Texas. She became passionate about climate issues and conservation after working on a project to restore sections of the Blackland Prairie, and is now a member of several sustainability and environmental activism based groups on campus. In her free time, she loves to knit socks, read, and train Krav Maga.
Merle is from Bend, Oregon and is studying computer science and public policy. On campus he’s also involved in research with the Duke Energy Intiative, writing for the Duke Chronicle, and the track team.
Amanda is a freshman considering studying public policy and environmental science and policy. She is interested in how governments can use policy and regulations to prevent environmental degradation. In particular, she is fascinated by sustainable agricultural techniques, and how these practices can be used at a larger scale. In her free time, Amanda loves to backpack, write, and bake.
Lannette is a first year Masters of Environmental Management student, concentrating her studies in Environmental Policy and Economics. She’s from California, and has worked in a variety of capacities to protect the environment over the years. From working on Capitol Hill to advocate for agricultural policy reform, to managing wildfire prevention and water conservation programs in Lake Tahoe, to coordinating political campaigns in San Diego, she does all she can to protect the planet and fight for justice for all.
Duke is only one university, can we even make an impact?
The 350 Campaign estimates that today $6.01 trillion in fossil fuel holdings have been divested worldwide by universities, foundations, cities, pension funds, churches, and other institutions, representing a $1 trillion increase since December 2016. This growth in the campaign has been accompanied by significant contributions from a number of Duke University’s peer institutions, including Yale, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Columbia, Georgetown, Syracuse, and over one hundred other universities.
Will this hurt Duke’s investment profile?
Energy use in the United States has shown an overall trend towards decarbonization. Recently, natural gas has surpassed coal as the primary energy source for electricity generation.With demand for coal falling due to competition from more cost effective energy sources, coal companies represent poor investments from a financial as well as a societal and environmental standpoint. Although the pace of decarbonization has accelerated, the need for fossil fuel divestment persists, as the speed of this energy transition is insufficient to substantially mitigate the detrimental impacts of climate change.
Fossil fuel extraction itself is also subject to resource depletion and rising costs. The shift toward fracking by energy companies is representative of a broader adoption of new extraction techniques in response to progressive exhaustion of conventional proven fossil deposits. The cost of such techniques is high relative to the cost of renewable energy alternatives. The more expensive oils from fracking, for instance, cost up to $90 a barrel to produce. At a selling price of $60 a barrel, these fuels are not competitive with many renewable energy systems. As renewables increase in efficiency and decrease in cost, while societal and regulatory pressures continue to be leveled upon fossil fuels, such trends towards decarbonization will continue and many top fossil fuel companies will become unprofitable investments.