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Boston University divesting from fossil fuels in investments, school president says

BU President Robert Brown.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

Boston University said Thursday it will divest from fossil fuels, becoming the latest school to end its investment holdings in the industry.

“This has been a long journey within the BU community and the Board of Trustees,” president Robert A. Brown said in an interview with BU Today, an online publication run by the school. “This is putting us on the right side of history.”

On Wednesday, school trustees approved a plan to shift investments tied to the fossil fuel industry, mainly crude oil and natural gas, according to BU Today. The trustees had voted to divest from coal and tar sands in 2016.


“Climate change is moving much more rapidly than we thought even five years ago — it’s not something our great-grandchildren are going to deal with, it’s here and something we’re worrying about now,” trustee Richard Reidy told BU Today.

Brown cited the work of environmental activists in bringing about the change.

“Advocates here have been very influential in talking with the [trustees] advisory committee and swaying their opinion,” Brown told BU Today. “I am proud of everyone who is involved because it’s a complicated process.”

Earlier this month, Harvard University said it will divest its holdings in fossil fuels. Harvard Management Company, which oversees the university’s $41.9 billion endowment, will let its investments in several private equity funds with fossil fuel holdings expire, university president Lawrence Bacow said in an e-mail to the university community.

Fossil fuels investments make up less than 2 percent of the endowment, and the university has not made new commitments to those investments since 2019, Bacow said.

“HMC was the first endowment in the country to commit to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the entire investment portfolio by 2050,” Bacow said. “Since we announced this commitment, a number of other endowments have followed our lead. We will work with them and others to achieve greater transparency in the greenhouse gas footprint of all of our investment managers, along with the development of protocols for assessing and reducing the footprint for entire investment portfolios.”


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.