The cry heard around the world Friday was “divestment!”
From the streets of Nepal and a flash mob in Barcelona to the Plaza of the Americas at UF, the message on Friday morning was clear. As climate change continues to intensify, so do the actions of protesters for a more sustainable future.
Despite the chilly weather, crowds of students and guests chanted “invest to divest,” as they rallied in front of Library West in honor of Global Divestment Day, an international campaign that encourages large institutions such as businesses and universities to stop investing in fossil fuels.
The event brought out more than 60 students, five guest speakers and live indie rock music from a local artist called Moose.
Anna Cesarotti, a UF sustainability studies junior, held a sign that read “4 degrees warmer = millions under water” as she stood front-and-center chanting with her bare toes in the grass.
“A lot of us are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to,” Cesarotti, 21, said. “Divestment for me means a second chance to make things right.”
Students lined up with Sharpies to sign the “Divestment” banner that organizers of the event vowed to present to the university board. It hung from the brick wall outside of Library West.
Matt Williams, director of the UF Office of Sustainability and Energy Integration, spoke about the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment that was signed by former UF President Bernie Machen. It committed the university to measuring and monitoring its greenhouse gas emissions and developing a plan and date for carbon neutrality, which is when the amount of carbon emitted by an institution is offset by planting trees or other “sinks” that trap carbon.
“Ours is 2025,” Williams said. “The University of Florida has been a leader in terms of its approach to climate change, so it is a very aggressive date but one that we think is potentially attainable.”
[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 2/16/2015 under the headline “UF students, guest speakers rally in support of divestment"]