Sunrise urges MSU to divest from fossil fuel companies

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People hold protest signs indoors.
Courtesy of the Sunrise movement at Michigan State, 2021

Penny wise and pound foolish. That is how Sunrise Movement and MSU Divestment sees the use of fossil fuels impacting the climate.

The Sunrise Movement is a predominantly youth organized movement intent on halting climate change and creating millions of jobs. The group would do it by ending the use of nonrenewable resources. Founded in April of 2017, the Sunrise Movement has more than 400 hubs across the country. East Lansing has its own branch nestled in Michigan State.

In East Lansing, posters with bright yellow letters in bold have popped up and a QR code to Sunrise Movements Divestment Teach-In, which was held over Zoom.

To James Madison senior Troy Distelrath, the Zoom meeting brought together community support for divestment at Michigan State from fossil fuel conglomerates.

“We wanted the teach-in to result in the spread of the petition and the greater … community support,” Distelrath said, “because we know that community support exists out there and it’s just about hearing that there is a movement behind it.”

Join us in our fight to #DivestMSU by attending our Divestment Teach-In on Tuesday, Feb 8 at 3pm! We will be joined by guest speakers to explain what divestment is, its benefits, the dangers of not divesting, and reinvestment. Spread the word and sign our petition. Link in Bio.— Sunrise – Michigan State University (@sunrisespartans) February 4, 2022

Divestment is the opposite of investment – it simply means getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds of a particular type. In this case, divestment means choosing to not invest in conglomerates that promote burning fossil fuels, which hurts the environment.

“We’re building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America,” Sunrise states on its website, “end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.”

For Sunrise MSU Core Team member Savitri Anantharaman, divestment in East Lansing is an incredibly important issue going forward.

Courtesy of the Sunrise movement at Michigan State, 2021

“Climate scientists have told us unequivocally that we need to drastically and rapidly reduce our carbon emissions to prevent catastrophic natural disasters and other increasingly dangerous effects of climate change,” James Madison sophomore Anantharaman wrote in an email. “But fossil fuel companies like Marathon Oil and Enbridge, as their primary areas of business lie in the extraction and distribution of non-renewable energy, have been incredibly resistant to this mandate and have doubled down on their oil and gas projects.”

In 2020, natural gas accounted for the largest resource source of electricity in Michigan surpassing coal for the first time. However, in 2019 Michigan was also ranked within the top five states for fossil fuels use in residential areas. MSU Divestment campaign created a petition for Michigan State to Divest from fossil fuels, which has more than 262 signatures.

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