Notre Dame passes on divesting from fossil fuels

The University of Notre Dame is only one of thousands of educational institutions which have been under constant pressure from environmental groups and their own special snowflakes to divest from nasty old fossil fuels once and for all, setting a good example for the rest of the community. That effort has largely fallen flat with most colleges, where common sense still rules the day when it comes to their endowments and future financial well being. Now Notre Dame has followed the same path. Rather than just say no to fossil fuels, the school has released its new budget and it will instead just say no to divestment. (Divestment Facts)

Notre Dame University president Fr. John Jenkins has just announced the implementation of a five-year sustainability plan that unequivocally rejects divestment as an agenda that’s hypocritical and misaligned with the school’s energy consumption reality…

This is a huge blow to the divestment campaign, which has put so much effort and money into lobbying Catholic institutions, given the Pope’s emphasis on climate change. But Notre Dame follows a number of other Catholic universities including Boston College, which have also said no to divestment.

Here’s the quote from University President Fr. John Jenkins which is refreshing in its blunt honesty.

Nearly all acknowledge that there is no practical plan by which we could cease using fossil fuels in the immediate future and continue the work of the University. It seems to me at least a practical inconsistency to attempt to stigmatize an industry, as proponents of divestment hope, from which, we admit, we must purchase.

What’s particularly admirable here isn’t the final decision – which just makes financial sense – but the attitude taken by Fr. Jenkins. They know that other schools which have tried to operate entirely on renewable energy have failed miserably, and spectacularly in some cases. And that’s just the energy they use to keep the lights on. Trying to eliminate all of the plastics and construction materials which utilize fossil fuels would basically have the school moving into caves. So calling divestment a “practical inconsistency” is just a nicer way of saying it would be hypocritical. Stigmatizing an entire industry which you were still benefiting from would be a shallow, expensive and easily mocked move.

And they would have a lot to lose, too. Notre Dame is currently rated as having the tenth largest endowment in the nation at roughly eight billion dollars. They need to shepherd those funds carefully for the future, and financial institutes which have attempted divestment consistently lose money as compared to their post-divestment projections.

Let’s offer a tip of the hat to Fr. Jenkins, and not just for a smart decision. His honesty is to be admired.