May 7 (Reuters) – Stanford University said on Tuesday it will no longer use any of its $18.7 billion endowment to invest in coal mining companies, a move aimed at combating climate change that could influence college administrations elsewhere.
The university’s board of trustees agreed with recommendations from a panel of students, faculty, staff and alumni that found investments in alternatives to coal would be less harmful to the environment. The burning of coal for electricity is a major contributor to the output of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions globally.
The Stanford announcement is the most significant to date from a major, well-endowed college or university in the United States amid a growing movement by students around the country to pressure their institutions to divest from fossil fuels.
“The university’s review has concluded that coal is one of the most carbon-intensive methods of energy generation and that other sources can be readily substituted for it,” said Stanford President John Hennessy.
It was announced on the same day the White House released a report warning that climate change was already affecting the United States in the form of more severe droughts in some areas and more intense storms in others.
He added that Stanford, which is located on the edge of Silicon Valley, is working to develop sustainable energy sources.
The resolution means that Stanford will not directly invest in approximately 100 publicly traded companies for which coal extraction is the primary business, and will divest of any current direct holdings in such companies, the university said.
Stanford also will recommend to its external investment managers, who invest in wide ranges of securities on behalf of the university, that they avoid investments in publicly traded coal mining companies as well.
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