A Call to Action // A Statement of Intent


To assume that economies can continue to grow through the exploitation of limited resources is misguided. Fossil fuels are in inevitable, terminal decline. The time has come to transform our relationship with energy sources, leave what is left in the ground, and collectively set a precedent for our peers. As part of a commitment to an ethical energy future, Swarthmore College must divest from all fossil fuel industries.


Swarthmore College professes a deep commitment to social justice, but is currently supporting oppressive global practices. The fossil fuel industry treats human lives as disposable. Through its entire chain of production, the fossil fuel industry propagates inhumane working conditions, deteriorates health, and extends poverty. In our own country, the extraction and burning of fossil fuels distribute health problems disproportionately to people of color and the economically and socially disadvantaged. Climate change further amplifies these inequalities on a global scale. Climate disasters include droughts, rising tides, loss of homeland, and forced migration. These disasters are already on the rise. They strike those communities least responsible for climate change, and least positioned to adapt. The lethal threat fossil fuels and climate change pose to human communities and ecosystems provides a clear impetus to action. In keeping with its stated principles, Swarthmore must be at the vanguard of confronting these social injustices.


Investment is a choice. It is a political choice with global consequences. Choosing to invest in an industry means financially endorsing that industry’s practices. In 1986, Swarthmore College ended its complicity in an unjust system by divesting from companies supporting South African apartheid. It is now time for the College to respond to an analogous system of injustice. In adopting the “Greening of Swarthmore” document, Swarthmore’s administration explicitly acknowledges the environmental consequences of its investment decisions. It states, The way we invest our endowment funds is inextricably linked to long term sustainability. Greening investments is more than a symbolic gesture, it is a concrete display of our commitment to fostering healthy communities and environments.” However, in contradiction to its stated values and claims of leadership in campus sustainability, Swarthmore currently sponsors injustice by funding fossil fuel companies and climate change.


Swarthmore Mountain Justice views the College’s current financial irresponsibility as an opportunity. By becoming the first college to divest completely from the fossil fuel industry, Swarthmore will embody its stated commitment to social justice and sustainable communities. We understand the difficulty of complete fossil fuel divestment. This transformation will entail necessary public discussions about the College’s financial stability and investment strategy.  We are ready and willing to do everything necessary to see this process to its completion. By taking on the challenge of divestment, Swarthmore College will redefine the role of higher educational institutions and set a bold precedent in the fight for climate justice and the common good.