Board of Trustees declines to divest from fossil fuels

April 25, 2016, 6:18 p.m.

In a statement released Monday, Stanford’s Board of Trustees announced that the University will not be divesting from the fossil fuel industry. The announcement comes in response to a campaign on the issue by the student group Fossil Free Stanford.

According to the Board’s statement, the decision follows Stanford’s Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing’s (APIRL) recommendation that the Board take no action towards divestment. APIRL had recommended that the Board divest from companies involved in oil sands extraction; however, Stanford’s endowment contains no assets in such companies. APIRL further concluded that it could not definitively judge whether the broader fossil fuel industry’s social harm outweighed its social benefit and thus advised no action be taken on divesting from fossil fuel companies.

“We believe the long-term solution is for all of us to reduce our consumption of fossil fuel resources and develop effective alternatives,” the statement read. “Because achieving these goals will take time, and given how integral oil and gas are to the global economy, the trustees do not believe that a credible case can be made for divesting from the fossil fuel industry until there are competitive and readily available alternatives. Stanford will remain a leader in developing such alternatives.”

Fossil Free Stanford expressed disappointment with the decision in an email to The Daily:

Fossil Free Stanford is deeply disappointed that Stanford’s Board has chosen to ignore the calls of the student body and Stanford community. We are glad that Stanford is no longer invested in tar sands. However, tar sands is not enough.

We are hurt and betrayed, knowing they have chosen to keep investing in environmental injustice and the destruction of our futures. Companies like ExxonMobil and Shell fund climate change denial and perpetrate human rights abuses; they corrupt democracy and fuel the climate crisis. By remaining invested in these companies, Stanford is choosing cowardice over leadership.

Our campaign will not stop until we win full fossil fuel divestment.

The statement comes after a long and prominent debate on campus surrounding fossil fuel divestment. Earlier this year, representatives from Fossil Free Stanford staged a sit-in outside the president and provost’s offices in Building 10, urging the University to take action on the matter.


Arnav Mariwala contributed to this report.

Contact Michael Gioia at mgioia2 ‘at’


Michael Gioia was Managing Editor of Opinions from Vol. 250-251; he also previously led the News division. He is from Plano, Texas and studied History and Modern Languages at Stanford. When Michael is not working for The Daily, he can generally be found reading or drinking coffee.

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