Energy & Environment

Boston University to end endowment investments in fossil fuels

Boston University will divest its endowment from fossil fuels, President Robert A. Brown announced in a letter Thursday.

Brown said the university’s Board of Trustees voted Wednesday night to drop all fossil fuel investments after previously voting in 2016 to divest from tar sands and coal.

He added that the university will immediately commit to no further direct investments in fossil fuel-extracting companies and divest from all current direct investments. The school will shed all its other indirect investments “over time,” Brown said, but he added that in the case of current private fossil fuel investments the process may take up to a decade.

In the letter, Brown presented the move as part of a broader trend.

“The actions of the Board of Trustees on investment in fossil fuels are, I believe, a necessary step toward mitigating global warming and the devastating impacts of climate change. These actions will put the University on the right side of history,” he wrote.

“But I will note that the very small fraction of our endowment that is invested in fossil fuel producers and extractors makes the Board’s commitment economically inconsequential. It becomes significant when added to the growing number of organizations, investment firms, pension plans, and individuals who are making the same commitment.”

In a post on its Instagram page, the student activist group Divest BU, which has called for such a step since 2014, called the decision “huge.”

“Thank you to the generations of students before us who dedicated their time and energy to this cause. We are committed to ensuring that the University follows through with these commitments,” the group added.

The announcement comes weeks after Harvard University confirmed it would take the same step and announced a target of net-zero emissions for university buildings by July of 2022.

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