Anthony Janetos, a CAS earth and environment professor, speaking at an ACSRI Forum on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in December 2015. The ASCRI proposal includes teaching that each person’s choices have a profound effect on carbon footprints. Photo by Cydney Scott
Includes divestment from companies seeking new fossil fuels
04.20.2016 By Art Jahnke
The BU Board of Trustees was presented on Friday with a broad-based proposal to expand the University’s sustainability initiatives, as well as a recommendation to divest from companies that continue to explore for new fossil fuel reserves or that extract coal and tar sands. The proposal, put forth by the University’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI), also recommends that the University hire endowment investment managers with expertise in renewable energy sources and incorporate a comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CAP) in BU’s Strategic Plan. Following the established practice, the proposal has been referred to the trustees’ Executive Committee for discussion, with further deliberation by the full Board at the next trustees meeting in the fall.
Trustee Rick Reidy (Questrom’82), ACSRI chair, says universities have a responsibility to take action that addresses climate change. “Universities should play a significant role in addressing climate change where divestment may be part of it, but education and research are where we can make our greatest contribution,” says Reidy. “Universities should also be prepared to walk the talk and become as green as we can be while fulfilling our educational and research mission. If we choose to divest, it is not the end of this discussion or of the University’s actions on climate change in the future.”
ACSRI member Steve Brady, a School of Medicine associate professor of psychiatry and chair of the Faculty Council, says the committee’s study, which included presentations from several experts and a close look at the actions of other universities, ultimately persuaded them to expand their proposal beyond its initial focus on divestment to include investment, education, research, and operations. Brady says that the ACSRI believes that the University’s current sustainability efforts “are terrific,” and that notes from a recent committee meeting “applaud the University’s commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 35 percent in an additional four million square feet of buildings by 2020, and reduce its energy consumption between 2012 and 2017 by 10 percent.”