Illinois State student environmentalists have asked the ISU Foundation that manages university investments to analyze how fossil fuel stocks are doing.
The students said the Foundation investment portfolio shows a net loss of $233,531 in Natural Resource Partners in the 2018 fiscal year. Natural Resource Partners is a coal and gas company.
“This loss is unsurprising as the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis recently released a report showing that over the past five years, fossil fuel investment has dramatically underperformed compared to the S&P 500,” said student John Jerkades.
The students have couched their argument to the Foundation largely in economic terms instead of moral suasion.
The group has told ISU Trustees they believe fossil fuels are a bad investment because climate change will encourage the world to move away from that kind of extractive industry. Senior Brooklyn Jewsbury said she hopes the foundation will get out of fossil fuel investments to avoid future financial and environmental losses.
“This concern is a matter of fiscal responsibility,” Jewsbury said. “We want to ensure that the foundation is upholding their fiduciary duty, remaining consistent with the university values of sustainability, and doing the right thing for the climate and the future of our planet.”
The students argued that Foundation investment in fossil fuel instruments will, over time, become increasingly speculative and that to avoid stranding assets, Foundation divestiture in that sector is prudent.
The students want the ISU Foundation board of directors to do a one, three, and five-year analysis of investment funds by the end of March. They have asked leaders to list the names of the fossil fuel assets, percentage of holdings in fossil fuel investments, comparison of fossil fuel assets to non-fossil fuel assets, and how fossil fuel and non-fossil fuel assets compare to the S&P 500 index over the three time periods.
ISU President Larry Dietz said he will have conversations with University Advancement leaders on the topic.
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