Ad-Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels, Fall 2020 Process

Details about Fall 2020 engagement for Pitt’s Board Ad-Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels as it works towards a January 2021 report on whether, to what extent, and via what methods, the University should consider endowment divestment from fossil fuels.

In August 2020, the Ad-Hoc Committee on Fossil Fuels of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pittsburgh was officially seated and 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 Committee is chaired by Board Member Dawne Hickton (Pitt Law ’83) and will report to full Board of Trustees in January 2021.

The Ad-Hoc Committee’s process to fulfill its charge includes background materials, invited subject matter experts, public hearings, and public comment, all of which are detailed on the Committee’s website.

Per the Committee’s Charge, the impact of any recommendations will be considered in the context of:

  • The University’s mission, values, and reputation;
  • Existing University policies, including the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policy that governs the Endowment;
  • The need to maintain sound financial investment policies; and
  • Other considerations the committee may deem appropriate.

October Update: The Committee is accepting public comment through November 13 & two open, public forums are scheduled on October 28 & October 30.

Background

In June 2020, the University’s Board of Trustees’ activated the Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) screening process the Board adopted in February 2020, deciding to create an ad-hoc committee to study whether and how the University should divest its endowment from fossil fuels.

Consideration of endowment divestment from fossil fuels is separate from the University’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Policy, which was adopted in March 2020 and guides investment decisions regarding its endowment.  The first report on Pitt’s ESG strategies is expected by the end of 2021.

These actions build on the July 2019 report of the University of Pittsburgh’s past Socially Responsible Investment Committee, which Chancellor Patrick Gallagher addressed in an August 2019 letter detailing the university’s next steps in considering sustainable investment strategies.