Wesleyan Vows to Divest from Fossil Fuel Investments by the End of the Decade

Editorial StaffMarch 9, 20203min

At its most recent meeting on Feb. 29, the Wesleyan Board of Trustees discussed how to better align endowment investment practices with the University’s broad sustainability efforts.

In a recent campus-wide email, President Michael Roth ’78 and Board of Trustees Chair Donna Morea ’76, P’06 shared the following message:

Given the climate emergency, the investment and ecological risks associated with fossil fuels and the Investment Committee’s own environmental, social and governance guidelines, there was broad agreement among trustees not to make new fossil fuel investments and to wind down current investments in this sector as quickly as possible while minimizing the negative impact to the value of the endowment. The University will be divested from direct fossil fuel investments by the end of the decade.

Wesleyan has already made a climate commitment aiming at carbon neutrality and will now be accelerating work in this direction. This weekend, the Board authorized the first phase of converting our energy infrastructure from steam to hot water. When complete, this project will reduce Wesleyan’s carbon footprint by thousands of metric tons per year.

Wesleyan’s College of the Environment (which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary!) has been a model of the broad, interdisciplinary approach to environmental studies, and the University will be extending the effort to integrate issues concerning environmental sustainability across the curriculum; official travel will now be “taxed” through the purchase of carbon offsets that have positive results locally in Connecticut; further efforts will be made to reduce the use of non-electric vehicles on campus.

All of these developments have been stimulated by the thoughtful contributions and advocacy of students, faculty, alumni and staff. We are grateful! The University is currently updating its Sustainability Action Plan, and we trust we can continue to count on the contributions of the entire Wesleyan community in responding to the climate emergency.