Boston University’s board of trustees has approved a strategy to avoid investing in companies that extract coal and tar sands oil, spokesman Colin Riley said.
In a letter to members of the BU community, university President Robert A. Brown said the board’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing proposed that “the university should, within its endowment, prohibit new and divest of any existing direct investments in those companies that continue to explore for new fossil fuel reserves of any kind … or extract coal and tar sands.”
Mr. Brown added that the ACSRI also proposed: “The endowment investment office should seek to include managers who specialize and have expertise in renewable energy sources and/or technologies focused on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”
In response, the board both approved a strategy avoiding investing in coal and tar sands extractors and also authorized a plan that will lay out goals and timetables for greater energy efficiency and green energy use, more climate research and education on campus, and addressing the effects of climate change on BU’s physical plant.
The investment office of BU’s $1.6 billion endowment has already begun to include managers with expertise in renewable energy and technology on its own.
The board also directed its investment committee to report at least annually on the implementation of the divestment policy and it agreed to review the issue at least every five years.
The trustees’ decision could result in divestment from some current holdings as well as avoiding future investment in coal and tar sands. However, the trustees noted that total avoidance of coal and tar sands companies might not be possible because the university’s portfolio includes mutual funds, whose managers choose stocks, and passive index investing, whose holdings BU has no say over.
It could not be learned by press time how much BU has invested in coal and tar sands investments.