Widgets Magazine

Board of Trustees declines to divest from fossil fuels

In a statement released Monday, Stanford’s Board of Trustees announced that the University will not be divesting from the fossil fuel industry. The announcement comes in response to a campaign on the issue by the student group Fossil Free Stanford.

According to the Board’s statement, the decision follows Stanford’s Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing’s (APIRL) recommendation that the Board take no action towards divestment. APIRL had recommended that the Board divest from companies involved in oil sands extraction; however, Stanford’s endowment contains no assets in such companies. APIRL further concluded that it could not definitively judge whether the broader fossil fuel industry’s social harm outweighed its social benefit and thus advised no action be taken on divesting from fossil fuel companies.

“We believe the long-term solution is for all of us to reduce our consumption of fossil fuel resources and develop effective alternatives,” the statement read. “Because achieving these goals will take time, and given how integral oil and gas are to the global economy, the trustees do not believe that a credible case can be made for divesting from the fossil fuel industry until there are competitive and readily available alternatives. Stanford will remain a leader in developing such alternatives.”

Fossil Free Stanford expressed disappointment with the decision in an email to The Daily:

Fossil Free Stanford is deeply disappointed that Stanford’s Board has chosen to ignore the calls of the student body and Stanford community. We are glad that Stanford is no longer invested in tar sands. However, tar sands is not enough.

We are hurt and betrayed, knowing they have chosen to keep investing in environmental injustice and the destruction of our futures. Companies like ExxonMobil and Shell fund climate change denial and perpetrate human rights abuses; they corrupt democracy and fuel the climate crisis. By remaining invested in these companies, Stanford is choosing cowardice over leadership.

Our campaign will not stop until we win full fossil fuel divestment.

The statement comes after a long and prominent debate on campus surrounding fossil fuel divestment. Earlier this year, representatives from Fossil Free Stanford staged a sit-in outside the president and provost’s offices in Building 10, urging the University to take action on the matter.


Arnav Mariwala contributed to this report.

Contact Michael Gioia at mgioia2 ‘at’ stanford.edu.


About Michael Gioia

Michael Gioia was Managing Editor of Opinions from Vol. 250-251; he also previously led the News division. He is from Plano, Texas and studied History and Modern Languages at Stanford. When Michael is not working for The Daily, he can generally be found reading or drinking coffee.
  • Nicholas Schroeder

    The Great Climate Change Bamboozle

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
    H. L. Mencken

    Earth’s carbon cycle contains 45,000 Gt (E15 gr) +/- 850 GT of stores and reservoirs with a couple hundred Gt/y +/- ?? ebbing and flowing between those reservoirs. Mankind’s gross contribution over 260 years was 555 Gt or 1.2%. (IPCC AR5 Fig 6.1) Mankind’s net contribution, 240 Gt or 0.53%, (dry labbed by IPCC to make the numbers work) to this bubbling, churning caldron of carbon/carbon dioxide is 4 Gt/y +/- 96%. (IPCC AR5 Table 6.1) Seems relatively trivial to me. IPCC et. al. says natural variations can’t explain the increase in CO2. With these tiny percentages and high levels of uncertainty how would anybody even know?

    Mankind’s alleged atmospheric CO2 power flux (watt is power, energy over time) increase between 1750 and 2011, 260 years, was 2 W/m^2 of radiative forcing. (IPCC AR5 Fig SPM.5) Incoming solar RF is 340 W/m^2, albedo RF reflects 100 W/m^2 +/- 30 (can’t be part of the 333), 160 W/m^2 reaches the surface (can’t be part of the 333), latent heat RF from the water cycle’s evaporation is 88 W/m2 +/- 8. Mankind’s 2 W/m^2 contribution is obviously trivial, lost in the natural fluctuations.

    One popular GHE theory power flux balance (“Atmospheric Moisture…. Trenberth et. al. 2011 Figure 10) has a spontaneous perpetual loop (333 W/m^2) flowing from cold to hot violating three fundamental thermodynamic laws. (1. Spontaneous energy out of nowhere, 2) perpetual loop w/o work, 3) cold to hot w/o work, 4) doesn’t matter because what’s in the system stays in the system) Physics must be optional for “climate” science. What really counts is the net RF balance at ToA which 7 out of 8 re-analyses considered by the above cited paper concluded the atmosphere was cooling, not warming. Of course Trenberth says they are wrong because their results are not confirmed by the predicted warming, which hasn’t happened for twenty years.

    Every year the pause/hiatus/lull/stasis continues (IPCC AR5 Box TS.3) IPCC’s atmospheric and ocean general circulation models diverge further from reality.

    As Carl Sagan observed, we have been bamboozled, hustled, conned by those wishing to steal our money and rob us of our liberties. Hardly a new agenda.

    BTW I have a BSME same as Bill Nye so I’m as much a scientist as he is.

  • Candid One

    Silly sophistry…making the data fit your concoction. Mencken was not a scientist; he criticized Newton but had no grasp of Einstein. He barely saw the beginning of the aftermath of the post-WWII industrial boom before his death. Your toying with details is a guise to cover that you’re weak on concepts. Your name-dropping of Sagan is ridiculous and misleading, as if he would somehow support your misinformation. Sagan extrapolated the greenhouse ideas to other planets, particularly Venus. Climate change was settled science to him at this death in 1996. His 1980 book, Cosmos, includes a warning about global warming.

  • Beyond Searsville Dam

    Sad, but not surprising. Stanford is similarly resisting removing their antiquated Searsville Dam, despite messaging in their own water and environmental projects and findings that more effective and less harmful water and flood protection alternatives are available. The science is crystal clear that dams harm watersheds and removing unneeded dams benefits ecosystem health.

    We have also seen a refusal by the university to accurately include climate change impacts from the dam in their climate change reports and accounting, including: 1) known methane emissions from the reservoir as noted by USGS, 2) loss of carbon-sequestering forests and grasslands submerged by the reservoir, and 3) blocking the flow of desperately needed sediment from reaching SF Bay wetlands at risk from sea level rise.

    Stanford needs to practice what they teach.

  • cafehunk

    It would make financial sense for Stanford to use their deep knowledge to realize that in the long run, these companies are going to suffer lower sales as fossil fuel use is displaced by power with lower CO2 costs.

  • skullbreathe

    As a percentage of U.S. energy demand, ‘green energy’ is declining in share.. There is no profit in green energy and unless the organizations demanding divesture are willing to pay out of their pockets in perpetuity for the lost revenue associated with high dividend paying companies like ExxonMobil this was a very smart and adult decision…

  • Jill T

    UMass leads where Stanford failed.

    UMass Divests from Fossil Fuel Holdings


    “This action is consistent with the principals that have guided our university since its Land Grant inception and reflects our commitment to take on the environmental challenges that confront us all,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “Important societal change often begins on college campuses and it often begins with students. I’m proud of the students and the entire University community for putting UMass at the forefront of a vital movement, one that has been important to me throughout my professional life.”