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News, University News

Paxson initiates new climate change task force

University community members to examine business and investment practices regarding sustainability

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, April 27, 2017

In response to recommendations  made by the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies, President Christina Paxson P’19 announced plans to create a task force to address climate change and environmental concerns in University business and investment practices as well as increase the marketing of the Brown University Sustainable Investment Fund, according to a community-wide email sent Wednesday.

ACCRIP, which examines ethical and moral responsibility in the University investment policies, provided recommendations to Paxson in December 2016. The recommendations came in response to a presentation made by Fossil Free Brown in 2014 suggesting divestment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies.

The Task Force on Climate Change and Business and Investment Practices will make recommendations to Paxson after reviewing the University’s “commitment to environmental sustainability and addressing climate change” in its business and investment practices, according to the website of the Office of the President. The task force will be charged in Fall 2017 with producing an interim report by the end of the semester and final recommendations by March 2018.

The task force will assess existing investments and procurement, as well as external vendors and contractors currently hired by the University based on their commitment to sustainability practices, according to the Office of the President’s website.

The task force will also assist existing committees, including ACCRIP, by making recommendations on the University’s proxy voting guidelines. Additionally it will support the Sustainability Strategic and Planning Advisory Committee, which is charged with meeting the University’s greenhouse gas emissions targets set in 2008, and determine the necessity of creating a standing committee that will continue the task force’s work “on an ongoing basis,” according to the website of the Office of the President.

The task force will be comprised of experts on the environment and climate change, staff members from the business, investment and administrative offices and student and alum representatives.

Two of the four faculty representatives will be experts in the environment and climate change, and a staff member from the Office of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Initiatives in the Department of Facilities Management will be also be appointed.

Other staff members will represent the business and investment offices, including one representative each from the Brown University Investment Office, the Controller’s Office and the Business and Financial Services department in the Division of Finance and Administration and the Office of Government and Community Relations.

Two undergraduate students, one graduate student and one alum will represent the student body.

In response to the second recommendation, Paxson said the Division of Advancement has already been discussing methods to increase marketing of the BUSIF, which is a sustainable endowment option that was created in January 2016 . Potential strategies include increasing the online visibility of BUSIF on the “Giving” pages of the Brunonia website as well as in existing communications channels such as email newsletters, especially to young alums, who are “one of the audiences for which this ‘gifts of any size’ option has appeal,” Paxson wrote in the community-wide email.

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  1. What needs to be done is establish an energy research center. Bring in the best engineers, scientists, and inventors. They would collaborate and test alternative energy sources for our cars, heavy equipments, jets, and electrical generation.

  2. Divesting in itself is useless, just hot air. Who among the divest group does not use cars, aircraft, streets, sidewalks, or a building? All of those use fossil fuels to operate or to construct.
    What is needed is an energy research center that would bring in top engineers, scientists, and inventors who would collaborate on alternative energy sources and power plants for cars, buses, heavy equipment, and aircraft.
    Such sources as hydrogen is already being used. I know people who are driving hydrogen cell vehicles that they installed themselves !
    And the amazing gas vapor engine ! 100 mpg on fumes ! (see alternative fuel vehicles).
    Jaguar is using a turbine powered electrical generator system ! A compact, high compression jet turbine is a good alternative to the internal combustion gasoline engine: efficient and few moving parts.
    A nuclear fusion power plant needs to be started and on line by 2025 ! It can be done. France and Japan are already building one.
    Creativity, vision, imagination, and cooperation will get the job done. Not a bunch of regulations, controls, and taxes.

  3. Letter to the WSJ about traditional universities and the “Innovator’s Dilemma.” It praises Purdue for purchasing the Kaplan Academy:
    My undergrad alma mater, Brown University, is resolutely stuck in the 19th Century. They have proven resistant to social media, online courses, teaching high school AP courses, you name it.
    Brown grads earn less than every other Ivy League school upon graduation. Brown charges in the top 10 of the US. Brown has the lowest endowment of the Ivy League.
    Christina Paxson, the President, expresses “what, me worry?” by raising more money from alums. And yet Brown has increased its operating expenses 3x more than inflation over the past 30 years.
    As the Germans say, “trees don’t grow to the sky.” As Clayton Christensen observed, sticking to the old business model results in internal rot and guts competitiveness.
    I am sorry to see such a good institution go the way of the dodo bird.

  4. Brown is a backwater, a useless relic of the 19th Century. Paxson’s attempt to attack climate change is a diversion…
    “Oh look, a squirrel!…”

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