University of Vermont officials announced Tuesday they will divest the school’s $536 million portfolio of all investments involving fossil fuels.
“This is the right step for the university to take,” said Ron Lumbra, chair of the Board of Trustees.
Lumbra credited students for playing a “productive role” in the decision to divest. He said students were “clear-headed” in their approach to the “complicated problem” of divestment.
“How do you really impact environmental change?” Lumbra said. “They studied the investment marketplace, took a look at UVM’s portfolio … and came to the board with a thoughtful, holistic view on how things had changed.”
The most significant change, Lumbra said, is that sustainable “green” investment funds now have a track record of success.
“There are two things going on,” he said. “Energy stocks have performed poorly. The forecast is also bleak, so the long-term outlook is less robust than in the past. The opportunity to invest in sustainable funds, in environmentally friendly ways, has amplified in the past few years.”
Lumbra said about 6.7% of UVM’s $536 million portfolio — or about $36 million — “touches” on fossil fuels, and will be divested. He said public investments will be sold by July 2023, representing the lion’s share of the divestment. Other funds that are co-mingled or privately invested could take until 2030 to divest.
University of Vermont President Suresh Garimella said the divestment is part of a long track record of environmental leadership at the university that includes the first environmental studies major in the country. He said there is no “wiggle room” on the divestment voted by the Board of Trustees.
“This will happen,” Garimella said.
Middlebury College announced in January 2019 that it would divest its endowment from fossil fuels, responding to years of pressure by students and professors. At the time, Middlebury’s endowment was more than $1 billion.
Contact Dan D’Ambrosio at 660-1841 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanDambrosioVT. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a digital subscription.