Climate scientists at leading universities are joining forces to discuss the basis of a set of principles governing investment in fossil fuels.
They include academics at Oxford, Imperial College London and Harvard.
Prof Myles Allen, of Oxford University, said the move was similar to principles governing investment in South Africa under apartheid in the 1980s.
“This is a challenging question being put to universities,” he told BBC News.
“We have the opportunity here to think about the most constructive approach to the divestment issue.”
Divestment is the opposite of an investment – it means getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that may be regarded by some as unethical.
The academics are due to meet in May to begin a one-year consultation process.
It might end in some form of agreement on a set of useful principles governing investment in fossil fuels in the future, said Prof Allen, professor of geosystem science at Oxford.
He stressed that the consultation, supported by the Oxford Martin School, was entirely independent of university endowment boards’ decisions on investment being considered now.
Gabriele Hegerl, professor of climate system science at the University of Edinburgh, is among those due to attend.