Princeton Will Dissociate and Divest From Fossil Fuel Industry

Princeton will no longer accept gifts or grants from 90 fossil fuel companies, and its $37.7 billion endowment will also eliminate all holdings in those companies.
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  • Princeton committed to dissociating from 90 fossil fuel companies.
  • Dissociation includes divestment and means Princeton will also refrain from any relationships that involve a financial component with the 90 companies.
  • Divest Princeton, a student and alumni climate advocacy organization, lauded the decision as the culmination of a yearslong effort.

Princeton University will cut financial ties with 90 fossil fuel-focused companies that it says are the largest contributors to carbon emissions.

The university's board of trustees announced last week that the Ivy League school would dissociate from 90 companies "active in the thermal coal or tar sands segments of the fossil fuel industry."

The Princeton University Investment Company (PRINCO), which oversees the university's $37.7 billion endowment, will also “eliminate all holdings in publicly traded fossil fuel companies” and “ensure that the endowment does not benefit from any future exposure to those companies,” according to the university's announcement.

Dissociation includes divestment, but is defined by Princeton as “also refraining, to the greatest extent possible, from from any relationships that involve a financial component with a particular company,” including “soliciting or accepting gifts or grants from a company, purchasing the company's products, or forming partnerships with the company that depend upon the exchange of money.”

The university did not give a timeline for when they would fully dissociate and divest from the listed companies.

Though Princeton's board of trustees in its announcement did not recognize the activism of Divest Princeton, a student and alumni climate advocacy organization with more than 3,000 members, its leaders lauded the decision as the culmination of a yearslong effort.

In February 2020 it submitted a divestment proposal at Princeton's annual Alumni Weekend. Two years later, the group filed a legal complaint with the New Jersey Attorney General urging them to compel Princeton to fully divest from fossil fuels.

Nate Howard, a Princeton student and a co-coordinator for Divest Princeton, told BestColleges that he’s proud of the movement’s work to create this a reality and that it recognizes fossil fuel companies’ threat to humanity.

"Princeton still needs to follow through, and we will continue to demand for transparent, full divestment, along with a complete end to fossil fuel funding for research," Howard said.

To offset funding lost because of dissociation, Princeton announced it would establish a new fund to support energy research.

“Princeton will have the most significant impact on the climate crisis through the scholarship we generate and the people we educate,” said Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber. “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.”