Stanford University announced Tuesday 6 May that it would divest its $18.7 billion endowment of stock in coal-mining companies, becoming the first major university to lend support to a nationwide campaign to purge endowments and pension funds of fossil fuel investments.
The university said it acted in accordance with internal guidelines that allow its trustees to consider whether ‘corporate policies or practices create substantial social injury’ when choosing investments. Coal’s status as a major source of carbon pollution linked to climate change persuaded the trustees to remove companies ‘whose principal business is coal’ from their investment portfolio, the university said. …
Overall, the university’s coal holdings are a small fraction of its endowment, said Stanford’s associate vice president for communications, Lisa Lapin. ‘But a small percentage is still a substantial amount of money,’ she added. …
At least 11 small universities have elected to remove fossil-fuel stocks from their endowments, but none approaches Stanford’s prestige or national influence. Tuesday’s decision seems likely to increase the pressure on other major universities to follow suit.
Among other universities, Harvard has resisted student pressure for divestment, and one student was arrested on Thursday after pro-divestment activists blockaded the entrance to the school’s administrative offices.
Divestment from fossil fuel investments is the focus of Carbon Tracker. Click here to read an interview with Carbon Tracker chair Jeremy Leggett>
It is also the focus of the recently announced ‘Divest-invest’ campaign by a group of American foundations – click here to read Ellen Dorsey and Richard Mott’s article>