For the first time, Princeton released dollar figures that detail the University’s current investments in fossil fuels: a total exposure of about $1.7 billion, or 4.5 percent of Princeton’s endowment. About $13 million, or 0.03 percent, is held directly in fossil-fuel investments, while the rest is held indirectly (for example, through external managers).
The report was presented at the March meeting of the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) by Hilary Parker ’01, Princeton’s vice president and secretary, and civil and environmental engineering professor Anu Ramaswami as part of an update on the University’s efforts to dissociate from certain fossil-fuel companies.
In May 2021, Princeton’s Board of Trustees announced its intention to dissociate from companies engaged in climate disinformation and those that participate in the thermal-coal and tar-sands segments of the industry. While the University’s endowment does not currently include any companies that derive more than 15 percent of revenue from tar sands, about $19 million comes from companies that derive more than 15 percent of revenue from thermal coal.
“Our goal remains to propose for board approval a set of actionable criteria for dissociation and a process for implementing them, now and into the future, by the end of this academic year.” — Hilary Parker ’01, Princeton’s vice president and secretary
“Our goal remains to propose for board approval a set of actionable criteria for dissociation and a process for implementing them, now and into the future, by the end of this academic year,” Parker said.
Over the past five years, the University has received $26.2 million in new funding from oil and gas companies in support of research, and Princeton holds interests totaling about $6 million in oil, gas, and mineral rights, received as gifts.
The University also released an analysis of 15 peer institutions’ plans to adjust their investment portfolios in response to climate change. The peer analysis and slides from the CPUC meeting are available at fossilfueldissociationprocess.princeton.edu.
Divest Princeton, a group of students and alumni that submitted a fossil-fuel divestment proposal to the CPUC in February 2020, has argued that the dissociation process is taking too long. The information shared at the recent meeting “has exposed Princeton’s deep and disturbing ties with the fossil-fuel industry, bringing urgency to our calls for divestment,” said Nate Howard ’25, co-coordinator of Divest Princeton.