After three years of students pressing the University of Maine System to divest from fossil fuels, system officials have taken a step in that direction by telling investment managers to consider environmental, social and governance factors when deciding where to invest the system’s $287 million portfolio.
Board of trustees member Karl Turner said Friday that the policy change will not necessarily eliminate fossil fuel holdings, but it “will weed out the worst offenders.”
The system’s Managed Investment Pool includes its endowment funds as well as funds held for foundations tied to the University of Maine at Fort Kent, the University of Maine School of Law and the University of Southern Maine.
The divestment effort, led by students and supported by staff and alumni, is part of a larger worldwide movement to respond to climate change. Students have made a point of speaking every month at the board of trustees meetings to urge divestment, and a student group, Divest UMaine, has worked directly with the trustees’ investment committee members.
A student leader with Divest UMaine said she is “proud of the system” for the new investment policy, but she said the group with continue to call for full divestment.
“At this moment we have agreed to disagree on the best way to bring financial investments in line with the System’s mission, but given the rising urgency of the climate crisis, we will continue to pressure the System to get out of the fossil fuel business entirely,” said Cassandra Carroll, an ecology and environmental studies major at the University of Maine.
The system divested all direct holdings in coal companies in January 2015.
Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at: