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iCAP 2020 Divestment Objective Review

Posted by Kejsi Ago on August 6, 2020

From: Benson, Barry D
Sent: Thursday, August 6, 2020 7:29 AM
To: Moore, Meredith Kaye <mkm0078 at>
Subject: Re: iCAP 2020 divestment objective review


Hi Meredith,


Thank you for your email and I appreciate the opportunity to review the objective below.  I look forward to seeing the final document.  All the best and stay safe and healthy!



— Barry


On Aug 4, 2020, at 4:41 PM, Moore, Meredith Kaye <mkm0078 at> wrote:

Hello Mr. Benson,


I hope this message finds you well. My name is Meredith Moore and I am the Sustainability Programs Coordinator with the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE). We are nearing the final stages of the editing process of the  Illinois Climate Action Plan 2020 (iCAP 2020), our campus sustainability strategic plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. I wanted to check with you to review and verify the language of the objective below on fossil fuel divestment. We discussed this objective in length at the Sustainability Council meeting with Chancellor Jones in June and would now like to lock in this language as soon as possible. I am happy to answer any questions you may have, and look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you!


#9.1 [Chancellor]: Fully divest from fossil fuel companies by FY25.

Fossil fuel companies are defined as companies which profit from the extraction, transport, or combustion of coal, petroleum, or natural gas. The production and use of coal contributes to environmental, social, and health issues, potentially leading to irreversible ecological damage. The university currently invests less than 1% of its portfolio in coal utility and mining companies and has already divested its direct holdings in coal. As an institution that prides itself on being "a model of sustainability, energy efficiency, and environmental friendliness for the world to see," it is imperative that the university's values and commitment to combating climate change are reflected in all of our investments. By divesting from fossil fuel companies, the university will reduce its contributions to and association with the negative environmental and social impacts attached to fossil fuel companies. Trends also suggest that the change in the economic market, especially as a result of COVID-19, supports a positive financial decision to divest. In order to ensure financial stability and cease contributing to climate change and social injustice, the University of Illinois must enact a plan to replace all of its investments in fossil fuel companies with financially stable and ethical investments as soon as possible, and then reinvest in more sustainable companies. 

The university has been discussing fossil fuel divestment since 2000 when students formed a group named “UIUC Beyond Coal.” Fossil fuel divestment has been formally recommended by the Joint Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Licensing and Investment in 2017 and a resolution passed in 2019. In August 2017, students sent a memo to Chancellor Jones “expressing our unanimous position that the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana should set a date within the next decade for complete divestment from coal utility and coal mining companies.”  Chancellor Jones’ October 2017 reply noted, “this is a complex and interconnected financial network that crosses a number of different governance lines within the University System.” He also stated, “I will share your report with President Tim Killeen and with UIF President Jim Moore and initiate conversations with them about the next steps we might take to move ourselves towards a more sustainable footprint while maintaining the financial stability we require as a university.” He has verbally supported divestment multiple times since.

The University of Illinois Foundation is an organization related to the university that manages the endowment with an independent board. While neither the Chancellor nor the University President can make this decision for the University of Illinois Foundation, they can clearly state their support of fossil fuel divestment and specifically request a change from the decision authorities. Through this iCAP objective, we will work with the Office of the Chancellor to create a letter encouraging divestment. The letter will be from Chancellor Jones, and it will be sent to all responsible parties involved in the decision to divest, including the University of Illinois Foundation, Board of Trustees, President Killeen, and those responsible for the portion of the endowment housed in the President’s office. Divesting from fossil fuels is a significant step to put our environmental commitments into action.



Meredith Moore

Sustainability Programs Coordinator

Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

1101 W. Peabody, Urbana, Suite 338 (NSRC)

217.333.0119 | mkm0078 at