April 4, 2013
Contact: Rachel Bishop
Phone number: (773) 573-7511
Brown University Investment Committee Recommends Divestment from Coal
Providence, RI – In a victory for the growing movement pushing colleges and universities to divest from fossil fuels, a Brown University oversight committee has voted unanimously to recommend that the university divest from the country’s 15 largest coal companies.
The committee is called ACCRIP (Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies). It is charged with ensuring that the university’s investments match ethical principles, and it has recommended divestment only three times in its entire history – from companies operating in Darfur during the genocide there, from tobacco corporations, and from HEI Hotels. In each case, the board of trustees complied with the committee’s recommendations.
Bolstered by today’s announcement, students are now demanding that Brown’s board of trustees divest from coal at their upcoming meeting in May. Brown’s president has confirmed that divestment will be on the agenda at that meeting.
“The board of trustees can’t ignore this recommendation. It can’t ignore the pressure from Brown’s student body and from students around the world. And it can’t ignore the dictates of science and ethics,” said Jordan Schulz, a student leader for the Brown Divest Coal Campaign.
Since September, more than 2100 undergraduates, along with hundreds of alumni and faculty, have signed a petition urging immediate divestment from the country’s 15 largest coal companies. The university’s student council voted to endorse divestment last month. Tom Steyer, a well-known hedge fund manager, recently wrote a letter to the university’s president recommending divestment and stating that divestment would not threaten the university’s financial status. Brown’s administration has said that the university’s investments in the 15 largest coal companies are worth less than $2 million in total.
The campaign is part of a national movement of students calling for fossil fuel divestment that has already spread like wildfire to more than 300 campuses. Thus far, five schools — Unity College, Hampshire College, Sterling College, Santa Fe Art Institute, and College of the Atlantic — have agreed to divest. Student divestment activists have also protested the Keystone XL pipeline, including multiple acts of civil disobedience at TransCanada’s office in Westboro, MA .
“Young people will be alive to experience the effects of global warming firsthand,” said Trevor Culhane, another member of Brown Divest Coal. “We’re targeting the fossil fuel industry because they’re the ones standing in the way of action on climate change. Collectively, these coal companies release almost a billion tons of carbon dioxide annually, more than Germany, Canada, or the UK. This is our future and we’re fighting for it.”
ACCRIP is composed of students, faculty, staff and alumni. They are finalizing the text of their recommendation now.
The list of 15 companies includes five mining companies (Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources, Cloud Peak Energy, and Consol Energy) and ten utilities that depend heavily on coal (AEP, Duke, Southern, NRG, FirstEnergy, PPL, MidAmerican, Ameren, Xcel, and Dominion). They are the largest coal companies in the nation by tons of coal mined annually and megawatts of coal-fired generating capacity, respectively.