Barnard’s board of trustees voted to accept the Presidential Task Force to Examine Divestment’s recommendation to divest from companies that deny climate change, as well as companies that mine coal and tar sands, Barnard President Debora Spar announced in an email on Saturday.
The decision comes more than a year after calls from student activist group Divest Barnard for the college to divest from fossil fuels. The task force, which began analyzing the financial and economic paths toward divestment for the college in February, published its findings in a report and announced its recommendation in December.
“We’ve got overwhelming support by the board,” Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldberg, who served as the chair of the task force, said. “I think the board is excited about this, we think it’s the right thing to do for the college, and now we just have the challenge of implementation, which we know will be the next big effort, and we're looking forward to taking that on.”
Goldberg, who will officially become interim president of the college when Spar ends her term on Sunday, said that the first step following the board’s approval will be to come up with a working definition of “climate deniers.” Then, the college will look to analyze companies that may fit this criteria and work with an endowment manager to implement the new policy.
Goldberg also noted that Barnard is the only college or University to divest from fossil fuels using this method, and said he hopes that Barnard can lead other institutions to do the same.
“We don’t think that Barnard alone is going to move the needle much, but we think if we start something and we prove that we can do it, we might attract others and will create a chorus of voices that could have an impact down the road, so this has potential,” Goldberg said.
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