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May 2, 2022

UMaine System to divest its fossil fuel holdings

Dannel Malloy Courtesy / UMaine System University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy

The University of Maine System has become the latest academic institution to direct its financial investments away from producers of greenhouse gases in an effort to address climate change.

The university system set a two-step plan that would divest about 1.9% of the assets, or $15.5 million, over an eight-year period.

The process would start by ending direct fossil fuel investments by the end of May, according to a decision Thursday by the investment committee for the university system’s board of trustees. Those investments currently total about $400,000.

No such investments would be made in the future. The second step, to be completed by 2030, is to end any investments in mutual funds or commingled funds that have exposure to fossil fuels.

The system identified fossil fuels as companies on the Carbon Underground 200 List, a roster of the 100 largest public companies that own coal, oil or natural gas reserves, including oil sands.

UMS also said it would assess investment managers with regard to their commitment to sustainable and fossil fuel-free investments and select managers who employ such strategies. The system has also pledged to keep its climate goals, as well as environmental, social and governance criteria, in mind when selecting investment managers.

The move to divest fossil fuel holdings follows a decision in 2015 by UMS to divest from coal, and a move in 2017 to consider environmental, social and governance factors in investment decisions. 

Maine’s Unity College and schools including Harvard University, Cornell University and Georgetown University are among other colleges and universities that have taken similar actions.

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