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Yale's new ethical investment principles will encourage fossil fuel producers to shift to a decarbonized energy future.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

The Yale University Board of Trustees approved a new set of ethical investment guidelines setting standards for Yale’s investments in fossil fuel companies. 

The principles aim to provide a framework for Yale to encourage fossil fuel producers to uptake more sustainable practices and shift to a decarbonized energy future by setting standards for the activities, behaviors, and characteristics of fossil fuel companies that would warrant divestment.  The principles were recommended by an expert faculty panel appointed in October by Yale President Peter Salovey. 

Yale’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility is planning to make its first set of divestment recommendations in June to guide the University's $31.2 billion endowment.

To remain eligible for investment by Yale, companies must avoid the production of fossil fuels that generate high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, minimize greenhouse gas emissions, support effective government policies that address climate change, support accurate information about climate science, and be transparent with Yale about their activities related to climate change. 

“Climate change is an imminent threat to the planet, and tackling it in an effective way requires difficult but necessary choices," Salovey told Yale News.

The approved guidelines come after Yale students advocated for years for fossil fuel divestment and ethical investing practices, Inside Higher Ed reported.

On April 7, Penn’s administration announced a plan to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from endowment investments by 2050. Environmental student groups, however, criticized the University's plan for its long timeline and refusal to fully divest from the fossil fuel industry.