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Members of Fossil Free Penn used a variety of metrics to estimate that four percent of Penn’s $9.6 billion endowment is currently invested in fossil fuel companies.

Credit: Courtesy of Petr Štefek/Creative Commons

Penn is a small step closer to divesting from fossil fuels.

A referendum calling for the University to divest from the fossil fuel industry has received votes from 15 percent of the undergraduate population, the requisite percentage of total eligible voters to be valid, according to the Nominations & Elections Committee, which is overseeing the referendum.

In order to pass, at least 50 percent of voters must favor divestment, though that will not guarantee divestment. Even if the referendum passes, the motion must pass six additional steps of approval, ending with the Executive Committee of Trustees, which has the final vote.

Initially launched by a petition from Fossil Free Penn, the referendum calls for Penn to stop new investments in the fossil fuel industry, remove direct and commingled holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel companies within five years and reinvest a portion of the extricated funds into clean energy assets.

Penn does not publish a breakdown of its specific investments, but members of Fossil Free Penn estimate that $315 million of Penn’s $9.6 billion endowment is currently invested in fossil fuel companies.

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