Brown Votes NO on Coal Divestment & Students Respond

Press Release- Corporation Votes “No” to Coal Divestment


Contact Info:Contact: Luke Taylor, 203.623.9044,


Providence, RI – On Saturday, Brown University’s Board of Trustees voted against a proposal to remove the University’s investments in the 15 largest coal companies in the U.S, despite the recommendation of the school’s Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility and Investment Policy. “I’m deeply disappointed in our administration. The board acted explicitly in opposition to the voices of Brown’s community, and of the endowment oversight committee. This could have been a moment for Brown to step up as a leader in the fight against climate change. Instead, the Administration chose to continue supporting an industry that profits from wreaking havoc on frontline communities and destroying our chance for a sustainable future,” said Brown student Ruby Goldberg ‘17.


Prior to Friday’s meeting, students from the Brown Divest Coal campaign formally requested that five members of the Board with connections to the coal industry recuse themselves from the vote, to be consistent with Brown’s conflict of interest policy. None of those members (Brian Moynihan ’81 P’14, Richard Friedman ’79, Steven Cohen P’08 P’16, Theresia Gouw ’90, Todd Fisher ’87 P’17) acknowledged that request. “The voting process at Brown echos the coal industry’s stranglehold on our nation’s governing bodies. Once again, a corrupt process lead to a dangerous outcome. Unless we confront this system, we won’t be able to make meaningful progress to address climate change,” said Ian Georgianna ’15, a member of Brown Divest Coal.

The coal industry is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and the number one driver of global climate change. The industry also has a considerable impact on the health of communities where it is mined and burned, causing over 13,000 deaths each year. The communities faced with these local environmental hazards of the coal industry are disproportionately low income communities of color. The divestment campaign at Brown is one of 400 fossil fuel divestment campaigns across the country, seeking to signal that it is morally unacceptable to profit from climate change. These campaigns follow in the footsteps of the South African apartheid divestment movement, and hope to similarly mobilize the political will to address the industry’s harms.

The Board’s vote came after a year of active campaigning from the Brown Divest Coal student campaign. Since the fall, students have held rallies, phone-banked, hosted teach-ins, met with administrators, and gathered over 3600 petition signatures from students, alumni, faculty and staff in support of divestment. “To me this vote shows that Brown doesn’t take its commitments to social justice and combating climate change seriously. What’s the point of teaching about climate science or environmental racism if we won’t act on that knowledge? Today our administration was too timid to challenge the status quo, but we’re going to keep pushing them to stand for what is right. Until then, our ‘Boldly Brown’ motto sounds laughable,” said Divest Coal member Kari Malkki ’16.

Keep in touch

Sign up to receive our updates and get access to all features of this website. Sign in with:

Latest from the blog

Jul 10, 2017
"Historic new research from CDP, voted no. 1 climate change research provider by institutional investors, in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute, today reveals that 71% of all global GHG emissions since 1988 can be traced to just 100 fossil fuel producers. This group is the source of 635 billion tonnes...
Mar 23, 2017
Congratulations to the activists at York University! "The York University Advisory Committee on Responsible Investment (YUACRI) has voted to recommend the University's divestment from arms manufacturers and fossil fuels. YUACRI was established in 2012 to integrate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) considerations into investment management processes and ownership practices...
Mar 15, 2017
"Columbia University, New York, will divest certain coal industry investments in support of addressing climate change, Lee Bollinger, the university president, said in a message posted on the university’s website. University trustees have agreed to divest from companies deriving more than 35% of their revenue from thermal coal production, he...