Brown Will Keep Investments in Coal

Oct 28, 2013

The governing board of Brown University has decided against divesting from the coal industry, saying there are better ways to fight global warming.

Students had led an effort to get the Ivy League university to take its money out of coal, arguing Brown should set an example and stop investing in companies that contribute to greenhouse gasses emissions, which are a major contributor to climate change. 

In a letter to the Brown campus community, University President Christina Paxson agrees there are strong social and moral reasons to divest from coal, but she argues that Brown’s investment is so small it would not make a significant impact. She also says divestment would do little to speed the kinds of innovations needed to transition the world away from a reliance on fossil fuels.

Paxson says Brown will instead focus on combating global warming through its teaching and research activities. Paxson has also asked the Brown provost to form a task force on Brown’s response to climate change.

Responding to the decision, the student-led Brown Divest Coal Campaign accused the Brown Corporation of flouting the university's motto, "boldy Brown," by refusing to make a strong statement against climate change.

“To me this vote shows that Brown doesn’t take its commitments to social justice and combating climate change seriously," said Brown Divest Coal member Kari Mallki, adding "our ‘Boldly Brown’ motto sounds laughable.”