In time for Earth Day, a fake email sent to selected members of the Yale community Monday afternoon said the University had decided to divest its assets from fossil fuel companies.
Chief of Staff to the President Joy McGrath said while she did not receive the email, the message appears to be a hoax.
“This email has recently come to our attention, and I can confirm that this is not an official Yale communication,” University Secretary Kimberly Goff-Crews said.
According to the email, the Yale Corporation has decided to implement a plan for divestment from fossil fuel companies over a ten-year period and cited consideration of November’s Yale College Council referendum which resulted in an 83% favorable vote for divestment. The plan involved freezing all new investments in oil, coal and gas companies.
The correspondence was signed by “Kenneth Wilkinson, Yale Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility.” However, the only three members on the CCIR are Neal Leonard Keny-Guyer SOM ’82, Catharine Bond Hill GRD ’85 and Paul Joskow GRD ’72. The identity of Kenneth Wilkinson could not be found to be linked in any capacity to the University.
Sent from the account, “firstname.lastname@example.org,” the email referenced the work of the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility and past divestment actions taken during the Darfur crisis in 2006.
The last line of the email read: “Our doors are always open.”
Fake news of the University’s divestment has since been picked up on Twitter by Huffington Post College.
Read the full text of the email below:
To the Yale Community:
For two years, the Yale Administration has carefully considered the feasibility of divesting from fossil fuel companies. We have discussed whether ceasing investments in fossil fuels aligns with Yale’s standards of ethical investing. A Yale College Council referendum in November resulted in 83% of participants voting in favor of divestment, representing 44% percent of Yale College students. The Yale Corporation and the Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility (CCIR) have taken into account this majority support for the project.
The Yale Corporation has decided to implement a plan for divestment from fossil fuel companies over a ten-year period. This plan involves freezing all new investments in oil, coal, and gas companies. The Corporation will request disclosure of emissions from companies in which Yale holds public equities. We will identify the ten highest-ranking of these companies in terms of reported greenhouse gas emissions and divest entirely from them over the next two years. We will further divest from all oil, coal, and gas companies over the course of ten years. Additionally, the Investments Office will create a full-time position to evaluate social and environmental impact across the rest of our asset classes.
Yale has a strong tradition of innovation in investor responsibility. Most recently, in 2006, we divested from companies exacerbating the conflict in Darfur. Today an immense challenge confronts our community. Higher learning institutions such as ours have produced substantial scholarship on the environmental and social effects of climate change. As a university, we seek to move forward confidently in our efforts to address climate change, which poses a grave threat to our future, and increasingly to our present.
Divestment from fossil fuel companies upholds our university’s core values and is a long-term financial necessity. We are grateful to the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (ACIR) for guidance in establishing an ethical investment plan. We have appreciated the input from students in this process.
Our doors are always open.
Yale Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility
A previous version of this post misstated the title of Joy McGrath.