On investing to curb climate change

To the Editor:

I was disappointed to read rationale given by the chair of the Board of Trustees, Michael Eisenson ’77,  for continuing to invest the College’s endowment in companies that profit from and promote climate change (“Green financing: The College’s investment in reversing climate change,” Oct. 5, 2016).

It is factually and morally inconsistent to accept the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change, believe in the implementation of the Paris climate agreement yet continue investment in fossil fuel producing companies. A recent analysis by Oil Change International calculated the amount of carbon dioxide contained in the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves (oil, coal and gas) and compared it to what can be emitted to stay within the Paris agreement. It shows that in order to have a 66 percent chance of staying under the 2 C threshold set by the agreement,  the majority of known reserves must remain in the ground. Yet the College’s investment funds are invested in companies, such as Exxon Mobil, that are actively searching for new fossil fuels and producing them.

More dangerous yet, private equity funds supported by college endowments are purchasing distressed assets — fracking and coal companies that are teetering on the edge of going out of business with today’s low oil and coal prices. We can’t be sure that the College’s funds aren’t engaged in this activity because the College refuses to release detailed accounts about the endowment’s holdings.

The trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to promote the long-term financial health of the College. If they believe that the Paris agreement will be implemented, why are they allowing the endowment to be invested in the stranded assets of fossil fuels?

Jeremiah Schuur ’96


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