Stanford University will not make direct investments in coal mining companies in a move that the Board of Trustees say reflects the availability of alternate energy sources with lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The board’s action follows a recommendation of the university’s Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing (APIRL). This panel, which includes students, faculty, staff and alumni, conducted an extensive review over the last several months of the social and environmental implications of investment in fossil fuel companies.
In its review, the APIRL acknowledged the findings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change regarding the role of fossil fuels in contributing to changes in the global climate system. The APIRL also noted that the use of coal for electricity production generates higher greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy generated than other fossil fuels, such as natural gas, and that alternatives to coal are sufficiently available.
Stanford ranks No. 7 on the Sierra Club’s most recent annual green colleges list. The school’s endowment was valued at $18.7 billion as of Aug. 31, 2013, the close of the 2012-13 fiscal year.
Last year Harvard University, which has the world’s largest college endowment valued at $32.7 billion, decided to continue its investment in fossil fuels, despite heavy pressure from environmental activists.