In May 2021, the Board of Trustees authorized the creation of an administrative process to guide dissociation from fossil fuel companies that participate in climate disinformation campaigns or otherwise spread climate disinformation and from companies in the thermal coal and tar sands segments of the fossil fuel industry unless they prove able to meet a rigorous standard for their greenhouse gas emissions.
To implement the dissociation decision made by the Board of Trustees last spring, the University is seeking impartial scholarly advice from a panel of its faculty with expertise in fields including environmental studies, ethics, economics, public policy, and engineering, to address a set of relevant questions. The charge to the panel asks that it present its findings in a public written report. The panel is also encouraged to update the broader community periodically while its work is in progress.
An administrative committee will use the findings of the faculty panel to propose for Board approval a set of actionable criteria for dissociation and a process for implementing them, now and in the future. The administrative committee aims to complete its work by the end of this academic year.
Charge to the Faculty Panel on Dissociation Metrics, Principles, and Standards
In order to implement the dissociation decision made by the Board of Trustees last spring, the University seeks impartial scholarly advice from a panel of its faculty, with expertise in fields including environmental studies, ethics, economics, public policy, and engineering, to address a set of relevant questions, including:
- What metrics and standards should be used to assess whether a company is spreading climate disinformation or participating in disinformation campaigns? What information is available to assess whether a company is participating in a climate disinformation campaign? What distinguishes these acts from legitimate skepticism or challenging of scientific consensus?
- What constitutes material participation by a company in the thermal coal or tar sands segment of the fossil fuel industry? What would be an appropriate rigorous standard or target for greenhouse gas emissions for companies in this segment of the fossil fuel industry? How can the greenhouse gas intensity of these companies be assessed?
- What constructive engagement options exist to attempt to convince companies to remedy their conduct before dissociation? What standards and metrics can be used to assess whether a company is remedying its conduct? What is a reasonable time frame over which a company could be expected to make progress toward established standards and targets?
- How can the metrics, standards, and targets referenced above be flexible enough to meet changing conditions over time? On what time frame should they be revisited to keep pace with evolving knowledge?
The faculty panel is encouraged to draw on additional expertise, within and beyond the University community, as needed to help answer these questions.
An administrative committee will use the findings of the faculty panel to propose for Board approval a set of actionable criteria for dissociation and a process for implementing them, now and in the future. We would ask that the faculty panel present its findings to the administrative committee, and the broader University community, in a written report. We hope that the faculty panel will interact closely with the administrative committee as it performs its work; we also encourage the panel to update the broader community periodically while its work is in progress.
The administrative committee aims to complete its work by the end of this academic year. We hope the faculty panel will complete its report substantially before that, and ideally by the end of the fall semester if possible.
The Faculty Panel is composed of a diverse group of scholars with expertise in a variety of fields and practical experience working with a range of organizations, industries, companies, boards, advisory bodies, and governmental agencies. With backgrounds in environmental studies, ethics, economics, public policy, and engineering, members of the panel bring an interdisciplinary perspective to the work of the group. Brief biographies of each panel member, including current and former engagements with a range of organizations, are available below.
Anu Ramaswami is the Sanjay Swani '87 Professor of India Studies and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the inaugural director of the M.S. Chadha Center for Global India at Princeton University. She also holds faculty affiliations with the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies and the High Meadows Environmental Institute. Ramaswami is an interdisciplinary environmental engineer, recognized as a pioneer in developing the science of sustainable urban systems, coupled with knowledge co-production to advance low-carbon, healthy, and equitable cities. Her work explores how eight key sectors – that provide water, energy, food, buildings, mobility, connectivity, waste management and green/public spaces – shape human and environmental wellbeing, from local to global scales. Ramaswami’s work integrates environmental science and engineering, industrial ecology, public health and public affairs, with a human-centered and systems focus. She is the lead principal investigator and director of the National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported Sustainable Healthy Cities Network.
Over the course of her career, Ramaswami has worked with cities on protocols for measuring carbon emissions and modeling pathways towards decarbonization. She has collaborated and co-published with cities and electric utilities on topics related to energy access, inequality and emissions. She has worked with industries in the US and India on pollution control, including petrochemical and pharmaceutical companies. She was a lead author of the 2013 IPCC report Chapter 12: “Human Settlements, Infrastructure & Spatial Planning,”and of the World Bank's 2020 report, "A Review of Integrated Urban Planning Tools for Greenhouse Gas Mitigation." She serves on the United Nations International Resource Panel and the US National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education.
Markus Brunnermeier is the Edwards S. Sanford Professor in the economics department at Princeton University and director of Princeton's Bendheim Center for Finance. His research focuses on international financial markets and the macroeconomy with special emphasis on bubbles, liquidity, financial and monetary price stability, and digital money. He has worked to establish the concepts of: liquidity spirals, CoVaR as a measure of systemic risk, the Volatility Paradox, Paradox of Prudence, European Safe Bonds (ESBies), financial dominance, the redistributive monetary policy, the Reversal Rate, and Digital Currency Areas. He has been awarded several best paper prizes and his recent book The Resilient Society won the best business book prize in 2021 in German.
Brunnermeier is also nonresident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Centre for Economic Policy Research, CESifo, the Luohan Academy, ABFER, and a member of the Bellagio Group on the International Economy. He is a Sloan Research Fellow, fellow of the Econometric Society, Guggenheim Fellow, and the recipient of the Bernácer Prize granted for outstanding contributions in the fields of macroeconomics and finance. He has served on the editorial boards of a number of leading economics and finance journals. He is a member of several advisory groups, including to the US Congressional Budget Office, the Bank for International Settlements, and the Bundesbank as well as previously to the International Monetary Fund, the Federal Reserve of New York, the European Systemic Risk Board.
Jesse Jenkins is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy & the Environment, and has affiliated faculty appointments at the School of Public and International Affairs and the High Meadows Environmental Institute. Jenkins is a macro-scale energy systems engineer with a focus on the rapidly evolving electricity sector, including the transition to zero-carbon resources, the proliferation of distributed energy resources, and the role of electricity in economy-wide decarbonization. He leads the Princeton ZERO Lab, which focuses on improving and applying optimization-based energy systems models to evaluate low-carbon energy technologies and generate insights to guide policy and planning decisions. Jenkins was the lead author of Princeton's landmark Net-Zero America study.
Jenkins research program receives support from numerous federal funding agencies, foundations and corporations, including the Climate Mitigation Initiative funded at Princeton by a gift from bp. He spent six years as an energy and climate policy analyst prior to embarking on his academic career at Princeton. Jenkins now serves as a paid consultant and advisor to provide technical analysis and policy advice for non-profit organizations and policy makers and early-stage technology ventures working to accelerate the deployment of clean energy. As a energy technology and policy expert, he has delivered invited testimony to multiple Congressional committees and his research is regularly featured in major media outlets. Jenkins served on the Technical Steering Committee for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap. Currently, he is serving on the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine expert committee on Accelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy System, and the Technical Advisory Group of the New York State Climate Action Committee.
Melissa Lane is the Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and director of the University Center for Human Values. She is an associated faculty member in the Department of Classics and Department of Philosophy, and an affiliated faculty member of the High Meadows Environmental Institute and the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment, among other Princeton affiliations. She also co-convenes the Climate Futures Initiative which is co-sponsored by the High Meadows Environmental Institute and the University Center for Human Values. On topics relevant to climate change, democracy, and sustainability she has published in journals including the Annual Review of Political Science, Climatic Change and Politics, Philosophy, and Economics; one of her monographs, Eco-Republic, uses ancient Greek thought to illuminate the idea of a sustainable society. She has served as a trustee of Princeton University Press and on the Climate Change Working Group of the Social Sciences Research Council, and among other honors, has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and served as the Lucy Shoe Merritt Scholar in Residence at the American Academy in Rome.
Prior to joining Princeton University in August 2009, and with certain affiliations and engagements continuing through 2014, Lane was involved as a speaker and organizer in a range of seminars and conferences on questions of sustainability: some of these were bespoke programs by and for companies including BP, Shell, and GlaxoSmithKline, while others were convened by the University of Cambridge (where she taught from October 1994 to July 2009) and open to a range of public and private sector participants. These events were variously organized by the University of Cambridge; HRH The Prince of Wales’s Business and Sustainability Programme; a private consultancy called The Corporate Theatre; and companies, including BP and Shell.
Lane has been a donor to environmental causes including carbon offsets through organizations including CarbonFund, TerraPass, and 3Degrees, Inc.; a signatory to alumni campaigns by Divest Harvard; and a signatory offering an endorsement of a 2020 statement by Divest Princeton.
Michael Oppenheimer is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University and Director of the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs. Oppenheimer is a leading environmental scientist at the interface of science and public policy, whose current research focuses on sea level rise, migration, and other outcomes of climate change from the perspectives of science, adaptation, and risk. Much of his work has centered on defining the concept of “dangerous” climate change, a key aspect of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. He joined the Princeton faculty in 2002 after more than two decades with the Environmental Defense Fund, where he served as chief scientist and manager of the Climate and Air Program. He is the co-author of two books - Dead Heat: The Race against the Greenhouse Effect and Discerning Experts: The Practices of Scientific Assessment for Environmental Policy - and numerous articles published in professional journals.
Previously in his career at Princeton, Oppenheimer led research that was supported through the bp-funded Carbon Mitigation Initiative, a relationship which has now ended. He is currently serving as a science advisor to the Environmental Defense Fund, and member of the boards of directors of Climate Central and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. He also serves as a science advisor to Climate Communication, and as co-editor-in-chief of the journal Climatic Change. In 2021, he was appointed as a member of the Board of the Trust for Governors Island (NYC). Oppenheimer has been an author of reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, since its First Assessment Report serving most recently as a coordinating lead author on IPCC’s Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and as a Review Editor of its Sixth Assessment Report.
Oppenheimer is a contributor to many environmental advocacy and conservation organizations and over the past several years has provided advice to Princeton’s student divestment movement and support for some of their petitions/statements calling for fossil fuel divestment.
Stephen Pacala is the Frederick D. Petrie Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. Pacala is an ecologist whose work focuses on problems of global change with an emphasis on interactions among the biosphere, greenhouse gases and climate. He is a leading expert who combines ecological and mathematical approaches to understand the climate problem, the dynamics of forests, and the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function. He is a member of President Biden’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), the sole body of advisors from outside the federal government charged with making science, technology, and innovation policy recommendations to the President.
Pacala’s research has been funded by a wide variety of federal agencies and non-profits. He directs the Carbon Mitigation Initiative at Princeton, an effort to develop solutions to the greenhouse-warming problem, which has been funded by BP since 2000. Previously, he chaired the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee on measuring and verifying greenhouse gas emissions by countries, and the NAS Committee on Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration. Currently, he chairs the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine committee on the technologies and policies needed for a fair and just transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the US. He serves on the Board of the Environmental Defense Fund and is a founder and Chairman of the Board of Climate Central, a nonprofit media organization focusing on climate change.
Elke Weber is the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment and Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, and fellow of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies and the High Meadows Environmental Institute. Weber is a cognitive psychologist and behavioral decision theorist, who melds theory and tools from psychology, economics, sociology, political science, philosophy, ecology, and evolutionary biology to understand human decision making in complex situations, in particular responses to the threat posed by climate change. Weber has been documenting psychological and socio-cultural processes within the general public as well as policy makers that function to delay the clean energy transition. Most recently she has led the way in exploring how social identity, social networks, social norms, norm clusters, and the dynamics of changes in social norms influence judgment and choice and has illustrated how this knowledge can be used to create decision environments (“choice architecture”) and social network interventions that hold promise for altering behaviors to advance climate policy goals.
Her expertise in behavioral decision sciences has been sought by advisory committees and boards of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (including the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate), a joint commission of the Nachhaltigkeitsrat (Sustainability Council) of the German government and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and the Science Advisory Board of the US Environmental Protection Agency. She serves as the lead author for Working Group III (Mitigation) for the 5th and 6th Assessment Reports of the UN IPCC, and on Science Advisory Boards of the Beijer Institute at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Stockholm Resilience Center, and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Rare, an environmental and conservation NGO. In the past she served on Science Advisory Boards of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (Milan, Italy), and the Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales (SciencesPo, France).
Dean Ewalt is responsible for a variety of programs and initiatives within the Office of the Dean for Research that support Princeton's researchers as they create knowledge, make discoveries, and address scientific and technical challenges. She joined the Office of the Dean for Research in 2008, shortly after its creation, where she has played a leading role in the creation, implementation, and management of sound research policy and research administration. Currently, she oversees research communications, research development, and partners with several campus units to ensure that research is conducted safely and in accordance with a variety of regulations and standards, including the challenges presented during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ewalt manages strategic innovation funding initiatives that support research in the humanities, social sciences, and collaborations between artists and scientists or engineers. She partnered with the Office of Sustainability on an initiative to foster research on “The Campus as a Lab: Research in Sustainability, Energy, and the Environment.” In addition, she co-organizes Princeton Research Day and Celebrate Princeton Innovation, two public events that showcase research by students, researchers and faculty. She has served on numerous University committees, including the Task Force on the Natural Sciences, Committee on the Future of Sponsored Research, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Advisory Committee, and the Minors Oversight Committee.
Hilary A. Parker (chair)
University Vice President and Secretary
University Vice President for Finance and Treasurer
University Dean for Research
PRINCO Managing Director
University Vice President and General Counsel
Nakia Barr (secretary)
University Assistant Vice President