A new report by the University’s Faculty Panel on Dissociation Metrics, Principles, and Standards recommends criteria for dissociation from some fossil-fuel companies engaged in climate disinformation and those in the thermal-coal and tar-sands businesses. An administrative committee will finalize the recommendations before passing them on to the Board of Trustees, which is set to act this fall, according to a June 2 update on Princeton’s Fossil Fuel Dissociation Process webpage.
To track climate disinformation practices, the eight-member panel, which includes faculty from the natural sciences, engineering, and social sciences, developed a scorecard that will examine disinformation and modes of communication. But the report notes that the scorecard is “intended as a starting point for deliberation and assessment.”
In addition, companies that earn at least 10 percent of their revenue from thermal-coal production, and those that produce 5 million tons of thermal coal per year or more, will be evaluated for dissociation. Similarly, a company’s share of thermal-coal-fired power plants will be considered. For the tar-sands and high-emitting crude-oils segments of the industry, the report makes recommendations based on the millions of barrels of oil per year produced by a given company.
The report recommends that the University give written notice to any company identified for potential dissociation and conduct a review lasting no longer than 60 days. After a 60-day response period, both parties may decide to “pursue constructive engagement.” Finally, if the company does not refute the facts presented by Princeton, the University would publicly reveal the company and begin dissociation “as soon as is practical.”
The report also proposes “reassociation” criteria and designates an exemption for companies that predominantly serve consumers in developing nations. The full report is available at bit.ly/dissociation-report.
Over the last year, the faculty panel sought input from the community, including students. A statement by Divest Princeton was sharply critical, saying that other institutions “have divested and continued on with ambitious climate action while Princeton stalls and delays and applauds itself for perfecting the process.” On the other hand, a statement by the Undergraduate Student Government voiced its support, writing that many of its suggestions were included in the report, which it called “a substantive step forward in our University’s fossil-fuel-dissociation process.”