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Statement on the Challenge of Climate Change and Proposed Fossil-Fuel Stock Divestment

May 13, 2016

Meeting the energy demands of the future in order to facilitate global productivity and increased prosperity—pulling billions of people out of poverty while at the same time sustaining the planet and its environment—is one of the foremost challenges facing humankind. It is equally important that we address the climate change that is resulting from our current global energy system.

Dartmouth, through its research and education, has an important role to play in this conversation. We are a highly respected voice, an honest broker, and we need to acquire the capacity to understand and help direct the global energy system. Through the unparalleled experience of a premier liberal arts education, we can prepare graduates who have a sophisticated understanding of energy and environment, and who are fair, critical, and open-minded in their approach to these complex issues. It is my goal to secure a transformational investment to vault us to the forefront of academic work on the global energy system that involves both teaching and research.

There can be no question that these are profoundly important issues; however, a separate question is whether having the Dartmouth endowment divest its holdings of the “Carbon 200” companies is an effective or appropriate tactic when designing a global energy system that will meet the energy demands of the future in a sustainable way.

To better understand this issue, I commissioned a report on the considerations involved in making major policy decisions such as divesting the Dartmouth College endowment from directly held fossil-fuel related assets. I have received that analysis authored by Thayer School of Engineering Professor Mark Borsuk. Separately and in addition to the report, working with materials from groups on both sides of this issue and talking with faculty we have generated an overview of the arguments for and against fossil fuel divestment. I have begun a thorough review of this information as I determine the steps that Dartmouth should take to help address what I believe is the most pressing problem of our time.

Last Updated: 5/31/16