Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Editorial: MSU should financially commit to halting climate change

<p>The East Lansing Extinction Rebellion group held a rally calling for action on climate change on Sept. 23, 2019 on Grand River Avenue.</p>

The East Lansing Extinction Rebellion group held a rally calling for action on climate change on Sept. 23, 2019 on Grand River Avenue.

Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

Islands are disappearing. Australia has experienced record wildfires. Rising sea levels are rapidly changing city landscapes on California’s coast. Climate change is the greatest threat humanity faces.

Without sustained action, anthropogenic — or human-caused — emissions are projected to worsen the impacts of poverty, escalate the spread of diseases and reduce global biodiversity because of ocean acidification, natural disasters and deforestation. This will disrupt natural ecosystems that sustain human life — and that’s an optimistic assessment.  

The Association of Big Ten Students — a collection of the student governments that represent Big Ten universities — understand this bleak reality and have called for their respective universities to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

Absolutely, Michigan State should reorient its investment portfolio from fracking, mining and oil production. It could remove a risky investment and save MSU money — the University of California at Berkeley has divested for this reason. 

But there has to be more than that. Michigan State should set a date for committing to 100% renewable energy and lay out an updated Energy Transition Plan. 

Their Energy Transition Plan in 2012 said the university would fully transition to 40% renewable energy with a 65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the 2030 fiscal year.

There’s no excuse for Michigan State’s lack of commitment to 100% renewable energy. There’s a model the university can use that was created across the street in East Lansing City Hall. 

Divestment alone can only do so much. It doesn’t change the expected return on investment for other shareholders nor does it influence a company’s profitability. 

Addressing climate change requires an economy-wide transition. We shouldn’t be narrow in our demands. A sole focus on the stock market could potentially miss the mark on the large-scale transition required to achieve an emissions-free, carbon-neutral world — if we are to attain it.

The State News Editorial Board is composed of Editor-in-Chief Madison O’Connor, Managing Editor Mila Murray, Copy Chief Alan Hettinger, Campus Editor Evan Jones, City Editor Haley Sinclair, Sports Editor Chase Michaelson, Photo Editor Annie Barker, Multimedia Editor Tessa Osborne, Social Media and Engagement Editor Wolfgang Ruth, Staff Representative Maddie Monroe and Diversity and Inclusion Representative Chandra Fleming.

Discussion

Share and discuss “Editorial: MSU should financially commit to halting climate change” on social media.