New York’s oldest university, Columbia University, has announced that its Trustees have voted to recommend divesting from companies which derive 35% or more of their revenue from thermal coal production.
The Ivy League research university is the latest big-name education institution to following in the global coal divestment wake, announcing on Monday that the University’s Trustees had voted to support a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI) to “divest from companies deriving more than 35% of their revenue from thermal coal production and to participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Climate Change Program.”
“Divestment of this type is an action the University takes only rarely and in service of our highest values,” said University President Lee C. Bollinger. “That is why there is a very careful and deliberative process leading up to any decision such as this. Clearly, we must do all we can as an institution to set a responsible course in this urgent area. I want to recognize the efforts of the many students, faculty and staff whose substantive contributions have brought us to this point.”
It has been a somewhat long and rocky ride for divestment at Columbia. Back in late 2015, more than 150 students were involved in civil disobedience protests in an effort to encourage the University to divest. A few months later, in early 2016, seven students were threatened with suspension for their efforts.
However, progress has been made slowly over the past year, and the University has been making slow and steady steps to increase its own efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. The Trustees encouraged the University to continue these efforts, as well as to continue supporting “research, educational efforts, and policy analysis in the field of climate change and carbon emissions reduction.”