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Brown University will end investments in fossil fuel companies

March 6, 2020
The decision is part of the school's commitment to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions by 75%.

Brown University in Providence, R.I., says it will end its investments in fossil fuel extraction companies as it works to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions and become a net-zero-energy campus.

In a letter to the the campus community, Brown President Christina Paxson updated students and staff on Brown's 2019 pledge to cut its campus greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent by 2025 and to achieve net-zero no later than 2040.

She said that Brown already has sold 90% of its investments in companies that extract fossil fuels, and the remainder "is being liquidated as soon as it becomes possible to do so."

"The decision to halt investments in fossil fuel extraction companies reflects the view that, as the world shifts to sustainable energy sources, investments in fossil fuels carry too much long-term financial risk," Paxson says. ""We do not plan to make new investments in fossil fuel companies unless and until they make significant progress in converting themselves into providers of sustainable energy.

Paxson also outlined actions at Brown to strengthen Rhode Island’s ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and use the university’s leverage as an investor to encourage plans by others to reduce greenhouse gases and develop sustainable technologies.

"A growing number of businesses around the world are creating plans to reduce their own emissions of greenhouse gases," she says. "Brown will use its leverage as an investor to actively encourage these efforts."

Brown’s plans to confront the realities of climate change will continue to evolve, Paxson says.

"Although there is a clear consensus in our community that climate change is an urgent threat, there are multiple views —and at times fierce disagreements — about the best political, social and technological strategies and tactics to employ to move the world away from fossil fuels," Paxson wrote. "There is no place better than a university campus to discuss and debate these disparate views, and I look forward to the conversation as it evolves in the months and years ahead."

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