Princeton University said Thursday that it would remove from its endowment investments in 90 companies to advance the university's efforts to reduce fossil fuels' impact on its investment strategy.
As part of the university's goal of "achieving a net-zero endowment portfolio over time, the Princeton University Investment Company will also eliminate all holdings in publicly traded fossil fuel companies," said an announcement posted on the university website. "PRINCO will also ensure that the endowment does not benefit from any future exposure to those companies."
The 90 companies cited by the university include Exxon Mobil Corp., CONSOL Energy Inc., Peabody Energy Corp. and many Chinese fossil fuel companies. Michael Hotchkiss, a university spokesman, declined to comment on the endowment's aggregate investment in the 90 companies.
Endowment assets, managed by PRINCO, were $37 billion as of June 30, 2021, according to the latest data. Updated fiscal year information is usually published in late October.
Princeton called its action a dissociation from the 90 companies – a more comprehensive strategy than divestment.
"Dissociation means also refraining, to the greatest extent possible, from any relationships that involve a financial component with a particular company," the website said. "It includes no longer soliciting or accepting gifts or grants from a company, purchasing the company's products, or forming partnerships with the company that depend upon the exchange of money."
The 90 companies "are all active in the thermal coal or tar sands segments of the fossil fuel industry, which are among the sector's largest contributors to carbon emissions," the website said.
The criteria used for dissociation were developed by a panel of faculty experts in a report submitted to the university trustees in May. The trustees voted in early September to enact the strategy, the website said.
"The university will also establish a new fund to support energy research at Princeton, in part to offset research funding no longer available because of dissociation," the website said. No details were provided.
The university is inviting top executives in the 90 companies to respond. "If a company provides information in a timely manner that resolves the concerns or demonstrates changed behavior moving forward, it could be exempt from dissociation and removed from the list," the website said.
The university will evaluate its fossil-fuel policy each year "to ensure that the spirit of the dissociation decision is being upheld," the website said. "This process will include consideration of whether companies from which the University has dissociated have sufficiently changed their practices such that they no longer meet the criteria."