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A deep dive into Maine's response, one county at a time.

Students call on the University of Maine System to divest from fossil fuels

umaine.edu

College students are calling on the University of Maine System to completely divest from all of its fossil fuel holdings.

At a meeting of the system's board of trustees on Monday, students said not enough has been done in recent years to move the system’s investments away from fossil fuels, particularly in light of recent commitments at the state and international level to address climate change.

Student William White said that the school needs to follow the lead of state legislators, who recently passed a law mandating divestment in the state treasury and the Maine Public Employees Retirement System.

"I won't sit idly by, while the tuition and money I give to the University of Maine System is funneled into investments that are destroying the planet, and destroying the future for myself and all our future generations that will come after me," White said.

At Monday's meeting, Board Chair Mark Gardner noted that the system had made substantial progress in reducing its fossil fuel investments since 2014.

"We're down in a de minimis position, which is around 2% or less of our holdings. We're continuing to work how to manage that to a lower status as time goes on," Gardner said.

System officials say that about 1.8% of its investment holdings are in fossil fuels — a drop from about 6.5% in 2014. About five years ago, the system changed its policies to consider environmental and social factors in its investments.

In recent years, several colleges, including Unity College and College of the Atlantic, have voted to divest from fossil fuels.