Princeton to ‘Dissociate’ Fossil Fuel Investments

The university targeted 90 companies active in thermal coal or tar sands segments of the fossil fuel industry.

Princeton University’s board of trustees has voted to dissociate from 90 companies as part of an administrative process established last year that focuses on companies involved in the thermal coal and tar sands segments of the fossil fuel industry, or that are engaged in climate disinformation campaigns.


Thermal coal, which is burned for steam and used to produce electricity, was made a priority because it emits significantly more carbon dioxide than alternative available fossil fuels, the university said. It also said that tar sands oil, which is derived from loose sands or sandstone, also produces much higher emissions than conventional crude oil, including in its extraction and production process. However, Princeton said thermal coal and tar sands businesses can be exempt from dissociation if they can prove they can meet a rigorous standard for greenhouse gas emissions.


For more stories like this, sign up for the CIO Alert daily newsletter.

And in a move to help the university reach its goal of eventually having an endowment portfolio that is net zero of greenhouse gases, the Princeton University Investment Company, which manages the university’s $38 billion endowment, will also eliminate all holdings in publicly traded fossil fuel companies. PRINCO said it will also ensure that the endowment does not benefit from any future exposure to fossil fuel companies.


The university said that the 90 companies targeted are all active in the thermal coal or tar sands segments of the fossil fuel industry, adding that they are among the sector’s largest contributors to carbon emissions. The list includes giants such as Exxon Mobil, Dominion Energy, Glencore, and TotalEnergies. The quantitative criteria used to determine the dissociation list was based on recommendations made by a panel of faculty experts in a report released in May.


The university said the board’s vote is a result of a two-year process that included input from stakeholders among the Princeton University community. It also said it will set up a new fund to support energy research at the university, partly to offset research funding that is no longer available because of the dissociation.


“The creation of this new fund is one of several ways that the university is helping to provide Princeton researchers with the resources they need to pursue this work,” Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber said in a statement.


Related Stories:

Harvard Adopts Goal for ‘Net-Zero’ Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050

Cambridge University to Divest from Fossil Fuels by 2030

Boston University Joins Harvard in Divesting From Fossil Fuels


Tags: , , , , ,