Georgetown Joins Stanford, Oxford in Coal Divestment

The ban only extends to the $1.5 billion endowment’s direct coal producer holdings, not to those of its managers.

Georgetown University has joined a growing institutional contingent—Stanford, Oxford, the Rockefeller Fund, and more—by banning its $1.5 billion endowment from directly investing in coal company stock. 

Directors of the Washington, DC-based Catholic school passed the resolution Thursday, following recommendations from an internal working group. 

“GU Fossil Free maintains that this is not a victory.” —Student-led divestment campaign

“As a Catholic and Jesuit University, Georgetown has a responsibility to lead on issues of justice and the common good such as environmental protection and sustainability,” the group advised. “Climate change is real and poses a serious threat.”

The divestment only applies to the endowment’s direct in-house holdings of companies that primarily profit from coal mining for energy production. Outside firms will not be required to liquidate coal investments, although the university said will “encourage its external investment managers” to avoid the sector. 

Assets implicated by the ban account for “an insubstantial portion” of the university’s endowment, according to the working group. Student-led campaign GU Fossil Free said the combined direct holdings of coal, oil, and gas producers represent roughly 2% of the endowment, or $30 million. 

The student group has been lobbying university officials since last year to drop all in-house fossil fuel assets as opposed to coal alone.  

“GU Fossil Free maintains that this is not a victory,” it said in response to the resolution. 

Related Content: The ESG TakeoverChurch of England to Dump Thermal Coal, Oil Sand Investments