Yale Committee Won't Endorse Divesting From Fossil Fuels

A Yale University committee declined to recommend that the Ivy League school sell its investments in fossil-fuel companies, defying pressure from students.

Instead, the Committee on Investor Responsibility adopted shareholder proxy voting guidelines on climate change, Yale President Peter Salovey said today in a statement.

David Swensen, Yale’s chief investment officer who oversees the university’s $20.8 billion endowment, will be communicating to money managers the importance of accounting for “the risks of climate change in their investment analysis,” Salovey said. He also outlined a number of other climate-related initiatives, including a $21 million capital investment in energy conservation and greenhouse gas reductions.

“CCIR agrees that climate change is a grave threat to human welfare,” the committee said in a separate statement. Yet, “divestment or shareholder engagement as a precondition to divestment are neither the right means of addressing this serious threat nor would they be effective,” it said.

Through research, scholarship and education by its faculty and staff, “Yale will have its greatest impact in meeting the climate challenge,” the committee said.

Yale joins a number of other schools including Harvard University that have declined to divest from oil, gas and coal companies even as student-led campaigns to do so have spread across the country. Yale undergraduates in November voted overwhelmingly to urge the school to sell its holdings.

Stanford University’s board of trustees voted in May to divest from coal companies while maintaining stakes in other fossil-fuel companies.

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