Dartmouth becomes fifth Ivy League school to announce fossil fuel divestment plan

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On October 8, Dartmouth College joined Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University and Harvard University to become the fifth Ivy League school to end direct investment in fossil fuels.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Dartmouth College announced on October 8 that it will become the fifth Ivy League school to end direct investment in fossil fuels and expire its current holdings in the industry.

The announcement, which follows years of student-led activism, brings Dartmouth into the majority of Ivy League schools – Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University and University Harvard having previously said they would pursue similar divestment strategies. Penn did not announce a comparable plan, committing only to achieving net zero emissions from fossil fuel investments by 2050.

According to The Dartmouth, the move is the result of two new regulations: a 2017 decision to ban further investment in fossil fuels and a 2020 ban on fossil fuel holdings.

Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon told Dartmouth that this change focuses on transitioning to clean energy alternatives, which he added is financially beneficial for the college.

“What we have noticed is that investments in energy transitions are now comparable or better than investment opportunities in fossil fuel companies,” he told The Dartmouth.

The move follows Harvard University’s September announcement of a similar divestment plan. The school has no plans to make any further investments in the industry, and Harvard President Lawrence Bacow has said its remaining holdings are currently “in trickle-down mode.”

These events came in the wake of the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, where the presidents of student associations from the eight Ivy Leagues signed a joint letter pressuring institutions to divest themselves entirely. of their endowments from the fossil fuel industry.

The Penn-led initiative was a rare example of collaboration between student governments in the Ivy League, according to Penn Undergraduate 2021 Assembly President Mercedes Owens.

Penn President Amy Gutmann and other senior administrators announced Penn’s most recent step in the divestment process in an email to the Penn community in April. Their plan pledged to achieve net zero emissions from endowment investments by 2050, but has been criticized by student activists for not completely ditching fossil fuels or reaching net zero sooner.

Following Dartmouth’s announcement, Fossil Free Penn reposted a tweet from environmentalist Bill McKibben headed to Penn, Yale and Princeton – the only Ivy League schools still directly invested in the fossil fuel industry – on his Instagram story.

“That leaves @UPenn, @Yale and @Princeton still trying to make money with the end of the world,” McKibben wrote in the tweet.

The FFP Instagram caption criticized the University for “being in last place to care about climate change.”

According to Penn’s Student Sustainability Association definition of divestment, no Ivy League has met the full divestment standard – which does not stipulate any direct or indirect investment in fossil fuel companies, including holdings in major indexes. like the S&P 500.

In a statement on Twitter following the announcement, Divest Dartmouth, a group of student activists, called the move a “direct result” of student activism and a victory for the fight against climate change.

“Dartmouth’s announcement is a great development, but this fight is by no means over,” the group wrote in the statement. “We must always push Dartmouth to put climate justice first, taking the necessary steps to build infrastructure to reduce our impact on the climate. ”

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