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Fossil Free Yale is founded.
In a Yale College Council referendum, 83% of students vote in support of fossil fuel divestment.
Fossil Free Yale works closely with the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (ACIR), which recommends parts of their proposal for divestment to the Corporate Committee on Investor Responsibility (CCIR).
President Bill Clinton signs a law changing the tax code in Puerto Rico, causing capital flight and a recession that eventually leads to Puerto Rico's current debt crisis.
August 27, 2014
Chief Investment Officer David Swensen writes a letter to investment managers requesting that they "assess the greenhouse gas footprint of prospective investments, the direct costs of the consequences of climate change on expected returns, and the costs of policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions on expected returns." The letter didn't promote divestment and didn't provide goals for improved investment.
The Yale Corporate Committee on Investor Responsibility rejects FFY's proposal for divestment from fossil fuels.
April 9, 2015
Forty-nine students sit in at Woodbridge Hall demanding that Yale University reopen the conversation on divestment. At 5 pm, when the building is scheduled to close, 150 students rally outside making a human chain around the building. Nineteen students remain in Woodbridge and are arrested for trespassing.
Puerto Rico declares its $73 billion debt unpayable. Unlike a US state, Puerto Rico is not allowed to declare bankruptcy. The bonds making up the debt were constructed as payday loans, with long maturities and high interest rates — today, nearly half of Puerto Rico's debt is interest.
Yale directly invests $190 million into Antero Resources, a fracking company with a record number of safety violations.
FFY submits a new proposal to the ACIR specifically calling for divestment from ExxonMobil on the grounds that the oil company funds climate denial and actively obstructs climate action.
April 12, 2016
Fossil Free Yale rallies at a keynote address by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. David Swensen writes a letter discussing the positive impacts of his 2014 letter to investment managers. He cites a $10 million partial divestment, and efforts by ARC Financial to research impacts on how climate change might impact their business.
The ACIR rejects FFY's proposal after meeting with representatives from Exxon, telling FFY that there is no evidence that Exxon currently denies climate change. Yale purchases more Antero stock, a total of $230 million.
President Obama signs PROMESA (The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act) into law. This places fiscal control of Puerto Rico in the hands of seven unelected officials from Washington in the form of La Junta (the Financial Oversight and Management Board of Puerto Rico), violating Puerto Rico's autonomy.
Hurricanes Irma & Maria, fueled by climate change, devastate Puerto Rico. The federal government takes months to send aid.
The Intercept reveals that the hedge fund Baupost Group, one of Yale's largest investment managers, is also the largest holder of Puerto Rico's debt and is suing to be repaid before any hurricane recovery can happen.
A coalition of activists, including Despierta Boricua, start a campaign demanding Yale cancel holdings in PR debt. This is part of a larger campaign across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
December 2017: The EJC is Formed
Fossil Free Yale, Despierta Boricua, Yale Prison Divest, ANAAY, and other groups hold a teach-in on various endowment related issues. Together they form the Yale Endowment Justice Coalition with two demands: Yale must cancel all holdings in Puerto Rican debt and divest from fossil fuels. The teach-in discussed not only Yale’s investments in fossil fuels and ownership of Puerto Rican debt, but also investments in private prisons, predatory payday lending, and other exploitive and unethical industries. Attendees pack into Linsly-Chittenden Hall, demonstrating the strength of the EJC's organizing power.
50 students sit-in and are arrested at the Yale Investments Office, demanding that Yale divest from fossil fuels and cancel holdings in Puerto Rico's debt. Hundreds more rally in support.
Two more sit-ins in the Investments Office. Students disrupt a talk given by CIO Swensen asking him to respond to the demands of the people sitting in his office. He refuses.
Over 1000 students walk out of class and rally at a climate strike to demand that Yale divest from fossil fuels and cancel the debt
150 students from the Endowment Justice Coalition and Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard disrupt the Harvard-Yale game demanding both universities divest and cancel the debt. Hundreds of spectators rush to the field to join them, and the action makes international news.
The Yale College Council votes unanimously to join the Endowment Justice Coalition. The Faculty Senate meets to discuss divestment for the first time.
The COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world, and Yale moves classes online. EJC reorients to support new campaigns relating to the endowment: Step Up Yale, which calls for Yale to open empty dorms to New Haveners who lack shelter to self-isolate, and Black Students for Disarmament, which calls for Yale to defund the Yale Police Department.
Yale students occupy Cross Campus, Yale’s central quad, for three consecutive days, ending on International Divestment Day, demanding that Yale immediately divest from all fossil fuels.
On the first day of the occupation, Yale proposes a new committee, the Committee of Fossil Fuel Investment Principles (CFFIP). The committee is headed by Jonathan Macey, who also heads the ACIR. President Salovey states, “climate change poses an existential threat to life on our planet, and we have a responsibility to examine whether our investment policies are appropriate or need to be modified with respect to this challenge.” No mention is made of student protest.
The CFFIP solicits student opinion on a hidden online form as they wrote up new principles to guide fossil fuel investments. The EJC publicizes the form to the broader student body and hundreds of students submit comments in support of divestment.
A YCC annual survey shows that 71% of Yale students either strongly or very strongly agree that Yale should immediately divest from all fossil fuels.
Speaking on behalf of Yale College Council at a protest the following year, Madeleine Zaritsky and Joaquín Lara Midkiff said “2020 Fall Survey data from our annual survey showed that 71% of Yalies voted that they either somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that Yale should immediately divest from all fossil fuels. Most of those who did not agree, simply lacked an opinion and essentially no one dissented. Both of these campus-wide temperature takings demonstrate an incredible student consensus on this issue.”
The CFFIP releases its findings and recommendations. For the first time, members of the Yale administration acknowledge that climate change constitutes a grave social injury as defined in The Ethical Investor, and that fossil fuel companies are uniquely culpable in the climate crisis.
The CFFIP recommends that Yale divest from fossil fuel companies that produce higher greenhouse gas emissions than feasible alternatives, that do not comply with industry-set best practices, that oppose government regulation, that promote disinformation about climate change and that fail to be transparent with Yale as an investor.
The Yale Board of Trustees accepts the recommendations of the CFFIP, and committs to divest from coal producers and from a list of oil and gas producers deemed to be particularly bad actors.
The EJC releases a statement, again calling for complete divestment. The EJC argues that the university’s continued preference for shareholder engagement in the face of the climate crisis is insufficient and immoral, and that the new recommendations “[held] the door wide open for the University to continue to invest in fracked gas, furthering the myth that it is the “good” fossil fuel.”
Reports show that Yale’s endowment earned a 40.2% return in fiscal year 2021, growing to $42.3 billion during the pandemic.
November 2021, students gather on Beinecke Plaza to protest Yale’s wealth hoarding and call again for complete divestment from fossil fuels. Speakers include representatives from the New Haven Climate Movement, Black Students for Disarmament at Yale, Disability Empowerment at Yale, Students Unite Now, Yale Young Democratic Socialists of America and Yalies4Palestine. Students demand that Yale divest from exploitative industries and recognize its responsibility to its students and the city of New Haven.
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