Environmental, Social & Governance Policy

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Dartmouth Taking Comprehensive Steps to Address Climate Crisis

Below are excerpts from “Dartmouth Taking Comprehensive Steps to Address Climate Crisis,” and we invite you to read the full statement here.

From more powerful hurricanes to increasingly severe droughts to longer fire seasons, the effects of climate change are real, far-reaching, and getting worse. Evidence that correlates the production and consumption of fossil fuels with the warming of the atmosphere is convincing and widely accepted. Experts say these damaging effects will continue to exacerbate existing threats to global health, nutrition, and biodiversity while also creating new hazards.

This reality presents complicated challenges for how to decrease reliance on fossil fuels, while at the same time creating an affordable, reliable energy system that will generate prosperity, especially in the developing world.

Dartmouth has launched a comprehensive plan to put forth solutions to help address the ongoing climate crisis, both locally and globally. The plan consists of a diverse set of measures focusing on three areas of impact: research and education, energy efficiency and resiliency on campus, and strategic investment of endowment funds, which includes investing in energy transitions while reducing all fossil fuel holdings to zero.

“As an academic institution, the greatest impact we can have to address the climate crisis is through our core mission,” says President Philip J. Hanlon ’77. “The creation of new knowledge and the development of future leaders ready to tackle the world’s most urgent problems is how Dartmouth can truly make a difference. As an institution and as individuals, we want all our actions to drive meaningful change and inspire others to act. Each of us has a role to play and the time to act is now.”

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Responsible Investment for a Sustainable Future

“The Dartmouth Investment Office believes the energy transition and a subsequent zero-carbon future are important and are influential themes in the economy,” says Alice Ruth ’83, the office’s chief executive officer. “We also believe the changes underway will create opportunities for aligned investment. As stewards of the endowment, our team is committed to understanding these themes and will make suitable investments, including renewables, the broad energy transition and other innovative technologies, that support a timely global path to net zero emissions.”

In late 2017, Dartmouth’s investment office decided to no longer make new investments in private fossil fuel extraction, exploration, and production funds. In addition, early last year the investment office changed its mandate for its direct public portfolio to no longer hold investments in fossil fuel companies.

“Our research led us to pivot away from fossil fuels and seek investment opportunities in the clean energy sector,” says Ruth. “The remaining exposure to fossil fuel funds, currently less than 5% of the endowment today, will decline over time to zero.” 

In addition, the investment office has increased its conversations on environmental issues with all prospective and current investment managers as part of its environmental, social, and governance due diligence process, consistent with its policy on environmental, social, and governance matters, says Ruth.

Additional Information

For additional information on ESG, please refer to the Board of Trustees’ Investment Committee ESG Policy.

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