Stay current on changes and developments in corporate law with a wide variety of resources and tools.
By Che Odom
May 7 — Stanford University announced May 7 that it would stop investing in coal companies, after receiving a student-led petition on the issue.
While the university's president calls it a “constructive” move, a representative of the mining industry says the decision is “political” and shortsighted.
Stanford's Board of Trustees made the decision based on a recommendation from Stanford's Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing, which is composed of students, faculty, staff and alumni and endorsed the divestment idea, according to an announcement posted to Stanford's website. The panel conducted “an extensive review over the last several months of the social and environmental implications of investment in fossil fuel companies.”
The trustees decided the school would not make direct investments of endowment funds in publicly traded companies whose principal business is coal mining for energy generation.
“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,” Stanford President John Hennessy said in the announcement.
“Moving away from coal in the investment context is a small, but constructive, step while work continues, at Stanford and elsewhere, to develop broadly viable sustainable energy solutions for the future.”
Luke Popovich, the National Mining Association's vice president of external communications, sees it differently. He told Bloomberg BNA the decision to divest does not consider coal's impact on people in emerging countries.
“Stanford has chosen political expediency over rational and humanitarian considerations,” Popovich said.
“There are 1.3 billion people in the world who lack electricity and won't get it in their lifetimes if coal is unavailable to them as the most affordable, abundant source of electric power. One would think Stanford, of all institutions, would also appreciate the need to develop technologies to make coal cleaner to use, rather to stop its use and prolong the miseries of millions of people in developing countries,” according to Popovich.
A subcommittee of the advisory panel conducted research on the matter after receiving a petition from a student-led group, Fossil Free Stanford, which asked the school to divest from 200 fossil-fuel extraction companies as part of a national divestment campaign.
The advisory panel said replacing fossil fuels other than coal with renewable energy sources is also a desirable goal, but fewer alternatives are readily available for those sources, according to the announcement.
“The Board of Trustees greatly appreciates the thoughtful work of the students and of the Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing,” Deborah DeCotis, chair of the trustees' Special Committee on Investment Responsibility, said in the announcement. “This is a considered approach that is consistent with our institutional values and acknowledges the critical sustainability challenges facing our planet.“
Stanford's total endowment was $18.7 billion as of Aug. 31, 2013. The university does not disclose specific investments in its portfolio, the announcement said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Che Odom in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jesse Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org
The announcement may be found at http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/may/divest-coal-trustees-050714.html.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)