Why are Billionaire Universities Hedging Their Bets on Climate Change?

by Ryan Rafaty for King’s Review

There was a time when Cambridge economist John Maynard Keynes, then the celebrated bursar of a burgeoning King’s College endowment, considered the purchase of equity in oil companies “a travesty of investment policy.”1 Keynes didn’t deny the enormous profit potential of the oil industry, but nevertheless deemed such “speculative attempts at capital profits […] within the area of hostilities” because he lacked adequate information on particular companies and judged the risks to be “clearly enormous.”2 Keynes was “aiming primarily at long-period results,” since he believed investors “should be solely judged by these,”3 regardless of any losses incurred in the short-term.

The Board of the National Mutual, a London-based insurance fund Keynes was simultaneously chairing at the time, renounced Keynes’ insistence that they retain their supremely depreciated holdings during the height of the Great Depression, leading to his eventual resignation in 1938.4The less parochial Board at King’s, however, trusted Keynes’ intuition and long-term investment philosophy, which turned out to be lucrative. During his 22-year tenure as bursar, Keynes outperformed the market by an average of 8 percent and was almost single-handedly responsible for financially enriching King’s College in the 20th century.

Full text in King’s Review: Why are Billionaire Universities Hedging Their Bets on Climate Change?

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