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Stanford University drops investments in coal

World Coal,

Stanford University in the US has announced it would divest its near US$ 19 billion endowment of stock in coal mining companies. It will cease all investments in coal projects and companies “whose principal business is coal”, saying that it had identified alternative investment opportunities.

The university said it acted in accordance with internal guidelines that allow its trustees to consider whether “corporate policies or practices create substantial social injury” when choosing investments.

According to the associate vice president for communications at Stanford, Lisa Lapin, the decision would cover about 100 companies worldwide that derive the majority of their revenue from coal extraction. She said that not all the listed companies were in the university’s investment portfolio, which is private. Overall, the university’s coal holdings are a small fraction of its endowment.”

“But a small percentage is still a substantial amount of money,” Lapin added.

According to Lapin, Stanford students petitioned the school’s board to re-evaluate the university’s holdings in energy companies. She said Stanford was already asking its investment advisers to review endowment holdings and sell stocks of coal companies. The order covers mutual funds with coal, as well as investments in individual companies.

An advisory panel that included students, faculty, staff and alumni spent roughly five months studying the issue before recommending that coal stocks be sold, Deborah DeCotis, the chairwoman of the board’s special committee on investment responsibility, said in an interview.

DeCotis said that the panel noted that coal produces the most carbon per Btu of any widely used fossil fuel, that practical alternatives to burning coal are available, and that the university was not dependent on coal or coal-derived products.

Other fossil fuels did not meet some of those criteria, but “this is not the ending point. It’s a process,” she said. “We’re a research institute, and as the technology develops to make other forms of alternative energy sources available, we will continue to review and make decisions about things we should not be invested in. Don’t interpret this as a pass on other things.”

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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