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Climate activists demand Indiana University divest from fossil fuels

A protest sign at Sunrise Bloomington's rally to demand Indiana University to divest from fossil fuels.

A protest sign at Sunrise Bloomington's rally to demand Indiana University to divest from fossil fuels. (Rebecca Thiele/IPB News)

Activists protested at Indiana University’s campus on Tuesday to demand it stop investing in fossil fuels. The group, Sunrise Bloomington, hopes IU Foundation board members will put the issue on their agenda this week.

Burning oil, coal and natural gas releases greenhouse gases into the air — that contributes to climate change and leads to more intense flooding and heat waves in Indiana.

Sunrise Bloomington wants IU to get rid of its fossil fuel investments and reinvest that money in businesses that promote sustainability.

Sara Bredemeyer is a senior at the Jacob’s School of Music and a member of Sunrise. She said many universities have divested from fossil fuels — including Harvard, Princeton and the University of Michigan.

“There’s a precedent that’s already been set for this being done and so IU has no excuse to not be part of that movement," Bredemeyer said.

Alyson Alde is studying for her master’s degree in environmental health at IU. She said the university claims it’s creating a more promising future.

“If they’re sending their money to fossil fuel industries, they’re not only not allowing for a livable future but they’re destroying the idea of even having a livable future," Alde said.

It’s not clear how much money IU has invested in fossil fuel industries. Sunrise Bloomington has asked the IU Foundation to disclose that information. A financial audit shows the foundation invests some money in “private energy, mining and minerals.”

The foundation canceled a meeting with Sunrise Bloomington in October. Sunrise activists want the foundation to make good on its agreement to meet, specifically in a public setting to hold the university accountable. 

"We are tired of the IU Foundation refusing to discuss this divestment with us despite our petition showing strong support behind this demand," said Joleena Mundy of Sunrise, a sophomore at IU.

Sunrise has collected more than 1,400 signatures asking IU to divest from fossil fuels. 

Contact reporter Rebecca at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.

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