Ad-Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels
The Ad-Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pittsburgh is charged by the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees to provide a report by January 15, 2021, on “options on whether, to what extent, and via what methods the University, in its Endowment, should consider divestment from fossil fuels in existing and/or future investments.”
The Board of Trustees officially accepted the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels at its February 26, 2021, meeting and approved the Resolution to Approve Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels, which accepted the findings, agreed to undertake the options, and dissolved the Ad Hoc Committee.
Public Comment (Fall 2020)
The Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pittsburgh invited the university community and public to provide public comment related to its Charge from October 15 through November 13, 2020. Public comments are available here.
In September through November 2020, the Ad-Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pittsburgh will be inviting internal and external experts to present to and be interviewed by the Committee. As they are interviewed, the names and affiliations of those individuals will be listed here.
Committee Status & Report (Fall 2020)
A status update on the activities of the Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels of the Board of Trustees will be posted here in January 2021. The Ad Hoc Committee’s full report will be submitted to the Board Chair by January 15, 2021, after which it will be under review by the Board Chair and Executive Committee prior to the February Board of Trustees meeting. It is expected that the full report will be posted here prior to the Board’s meeting on February 26, 2021
Public Comment on Report (February 19, 2021)
The Board of Trustees invited public comments related to the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels.
Members of the public and the University community were able to submit public comments through this website from Friday, February 19, 2021, through Tuesday, February 23, 2021.
Committee Status & Report (January 29, 2021)
Following extensive consultations with members of the University community, representatives of peer institutions, and financial experts, the Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels delivered its draft report of findings and options to Board Chairman Thomas E. Richards on January 15, 2021.
Over the course of six months, the Committee held 12 meetings that included 11 interviews with nine subject matter experts, accepted online public comment submission over a one month period, and reviewed a substantial number of background reference documents and materials submitted to the Ad Hoc Committee via public comment. The Ad Hoc Committee also held two Open Forums for members of the University community and the general public on October 28, 2020, and October 30, 2020; transcripts from both Forums are available online.
The Committee’s report is currently under review and will be made public prior to any action by the full Board of Trustees.
Background: In February 2020, the Board adopted a “Socially Responsible Investing Screening Process,” which sets out a process for addressing University community concerns relating to socially responsible investing that meet a significant threshold. The first implementation of the Board’s SRI Screening Process was the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels.
The Committee’s work fulfills the charge it was given to “…provide options on whether, to what extent, and via what methods the University, in its Endowment, should consider divestment from fossil fuels in existing and/or future investments. The impact of such recommendation should be considered in the context of: (i) the University’s mission, values, and reputation; (ii) existing University policies, including the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policy that governs the Endowment; (iii) the need to maintain sound financial investment policies; and (iv) such other considerations as the committee may deem appropriate.”
Board Chairperson Richards appointed the following Trustees to serve on the Ad Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels: Dawne S. Hickton (Committee Chair), Sundaa Bridgett-Jones, Edward J. Grefenstette, Diane P. Holder, John A. Maher III, Marlee S. Myers, and Herbert S. Shear.
In following the guidance in its Charge, the Ad Hoc Committee has worked to conduct analysis and outline the issues in a non-biased and balanced manner. Some key areas of examination for the Ad Hoc Committee included: (i) understanding the current global picture of fossil fuel investments; (ii) how the University viewed fossil fuel investments; and (iii) how other institutions addressed this concern.
The Ad Hoc Committee Chair and members are deeply appreciative of the opportunity to carefully consider the issues relating to this proposal. The Committee is also grateful to the many members of the University community and external stakeholders who contributed their time and energies to the process.