Dartmouth Ends Investments in Fossil Fuels
Editor’s Note: This John Lippman and Claire Potter story first appeared in the Valley News on October 8.
Following similar announcements from other universities and years of protest by former activists, Dartmouth College said on Friday it would halt investments in fossil fuels as part of a package of plans “for help address the ongoing climate crisis, both locally and globally. “
On the eve of its Homecoming Weekend in Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth announced on its website that it would no longer invest in private funds with fossil fuel holdings, a liquidation that is nevertheless expected to take several years until the expiration of contracts. (The college said in 2017 that it would no longer make new direct investments in companies with fossil fuel interests, and then early last year it said it would withdraw from such direct investments altogether. .)
Private funds with investments in fossil fuels represent less than 5% of the college’s $ 6 billion endowment, according to Dartmouth, which would bring the value of holdings to around $ 300 million or less.
“Our research has led us to move away from fossil fuels and look for investment opportunities in the clean energy sector,” said Alice Ruth, CEO of the Dartmouth Investment Office, which manages the college’s endowment. , in the ad. She added that investments in fossil fuels will decrease “over time to zero”.
Dartmouth has not defined how long means “over time”, although private equity funds generally have life cycles – that is, the time required by contract for participants to stay invested. or risk penalties for early exit – up to 12 years.
Harvard announced last month that it would also cut back on investments in fossil fuels, joining other universities, such as Oxford, Cambridge, Brown and Cornell, The New York Times reported.
In recent years, Dartmouth has also taken various steps to reduce the carbon footprint of its campus. to net zero emissions by then, Dartmouth said.
“As the consequence of rapid global warming becomes clearer every day, coupled with the rapid development of exciting new technologies, we need to aim higher and be more ambitious in our goals,” said Dartmouth Chairman Phil Hanlon, in the ad.
The college also noted that it had previously committed $ 400 million in investments on its current $ 3 billion “Call to Lead” fundraising campaign to fund university research, education programs and centers. focused on solutions to climate change.
This includes $ 200 million for the new Center for Engineering and Computer Science complex at the Thayer School of Engineering; the $ 80 million donated by the family of Canadian oil giant Irving Oil to the Irving Institute for Energy and Society expected to be completed this year; and a gift to the Revers Center for Energy from Tuck School of Business alumnus and ArcLight Capital co-founder, Daniel Revers.
Some Dartmouth graduates have been pushing for divestment for almost 10 years, and they saw Dartmouth’s announcement on fossil fuel investments as a hard-won victory.
“For Dartmouth to step down, it means we’ve reached a point in our community, our institution, that community members – our students, faculty, staff and alumni – understand that climate change is a problem. deeply moral issue and a systemic issue rooted in injustice, ”said Leehi Yona, a 2016 alumnus who founded student activist group Divest Dartmouth in 2012.
She said the college’s announcement was a “surprise” given the pushback activists have faced over the years.
“Some people thought that was not a laudable goal, that it was too drastic and extreme,” she said when describing the early days of Divest Dartmouth.
Since 2012, she said student activists have collected thousands of signatures on petitions and organized protests, including a protest of 400 people in 2016.
Morgan Curtis was also one of the early leaders of the movement and praised the news as well. After graduating in 2014, she launched Dartmouth Alumni for Climate Action, which now has around 600 members. She went so far as to interrupt Hanlon’s speech to reunion classes in 2019 with a statement from him and a large orange banner announcing “DIVEEST.”
“This is the social license it gives to the fossil fuel industry when a higher education institution declares that it is a valid way to make money to educate future generations,” said she declared. “Divestment says, ‘We don’t say anymore that this is a viable industry for the future.’ “
But not everyone in the Dartmouth community supports the decision to withdraw the fossil fuel endowment, noting that the investments have paid off in the past.
“My argument is primarily financial,” said Ishaan Jajodia, 2020 graduate. “The college has a moral imperative to ensure that people receive as much financial assistance as possible. Staffing is nothing more than a tool. … I would be more concerned with the best performing stocks I could get.
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