University of Minnesota may disclose its green investments, proposed policy change will likely pass in May

After hearing appeals from students for the University of Minnesota to halt its investments in fossil fuel companies, the Board of Regents is weighing a policy change. The new policy would require the institution to file reports detailing investments in sustainable and renewable energy companies.

The regents discussed sustainability efforts at a committee meeting Thursday, where a spokesman for the board said the change will likely pass in May.

The University invests its endowment in various companies and organizations but doesn’t track how many of those investments are environmentally friendly, said Stuart Mason, associate vice president of the Office of Investments and Banking.

But if the regents pass the resolution, the University would have to disclose which of those companies are renewable energy firms, Mason said.

Mason, who presented the plan Thursday, said the policy change is likely to pass.

“As I looked around the room and the response from the regents, they were asking good questions,” he said. “By the time the questions were answered, they were all in favor of this change.”

Some student groups have pushed University administration to move investments away from fossil fuel companies — but Mason said this isn’t currently feasible because such divestment would cost the University a lot of money.

John Reichl, a student representative to the Board of Regents, said he met with members of Fossil Free Minnesota, the main University student group pushing for divestment, before helping present the policy to the regents.

Reichl said the proposed policy will enhance clarity and transparency with University investments. The University’s investors should be more socially responsible with the school’s endowment by investing in more sustainability focused companies, Reichl said.

If the resolution passes, Mason said it will mark a step in the right direction for the University.

“It’s a very good way to highlight what we are doing [with investments] and make further steps to evaluate if we think it’s sufficient or appropriate,” he said.

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