A message about Penn’s endowment and sustainability
November 29, 2022
The world gathering in Egypt for COP27 reminds us of the urgency of our collective fight against climate change. Faculty, student, and staff attendees from Penn represent the energy and talent that so many Penn community members contribute to this crucial effort. This is an opportune moment to share our thoughts on the role of Penn’s endowment in combatting climate change. The complexity of the issue and the urgency of the climate challenge merit a thoughtful consideration and explanation of Penn’s policies.
Penn’s endowment exists to provide long-term support for Penn’s educational mission. This year, Penn will spend a record $960 million from its endowment to support student financial aid, faculty salaries, faculty teaching and research, Penn’s health system, and countless other programs that rely heavily on endowment spending. While the core purpose of Penn’s endowment is to provide this financial support, some have argued that large endowments should play a role in mitigating climate change and, in particular, that fossil fuels do not have a place in university endowments.
The Office of Investments has established the goal of reducing the net greenhouse gas emissions from Penn’s endowment investments to zero by 2050. Penn Today speaks with Chief Investment Officer Peter Ammon about Penn’s new climate goal and the challenges that will need to be overcome in order to achieve it.