Harvard says it won’t invest in fossil fuels

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Harvard says it won’t invest in fossil fuels

Harvard University has announced that it does not intend to make any future investments in fossil fuels, and is discontinuing its legacy investments, as University President Lawrence S. “Climate change is the most consequential threat facing humanity,” Bako said in an email to the Harvard community.

The announcement, sent out Thursday, is a major victory for the climate change movement, given Harvard’s $42 billion endowment and esteemed reputation, and a marked change in tone for the school, which has received such an announcement through the years. Resist putting your full weight behind. Lobbyed by student, faculty and alumni activists.

Since last year, Activision has succeeded in getting four pro-Partition candidates elected to Harvard’s board of overseers, the first candidates elected through a petition campaign since 1989, when anti-apartheid activists in South Africa had placed Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the panel. , which helps in setting the strategy for the school.

The fight for disinvestment is based on the idea that university endowments, being tax-exempt, have an obligation to focus on the public good, and that huge charities like Harvard’s can be instruments of change.

Harvard activists hope other institutions can follow the university’s lead.

“People pay attention to what Harvard does,” said Danielle Strasberger, a 2018 Harvard graduate who co-founded Harvard Forward, the campus disinvestment movement, with a classmate, Nathan Goldberg Cranier.

“The fact that Harvard is finally indicating that it is no longer supporting the fossil fuel community is a big domino to fall into,” she said. “Hopefully this will encourage other universities to pressurize those who haven’t yet.”

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According to Harvard Forward, several other universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Brown and Cornell, have committed to divest from fossil fuels. But many others have not, and similar disinvestment movements have spread to universities across the country.

In his announcement, Mr Bako said that Harvard Management Company has been reducing its exposure to fossil fuels for some time.

“HMC has no direct investment in companies that explore or develop further reserves of fossil fuels,” Bako said. “Furthermore, HMC has no intention of making such investments in the future.”

He added that Harvard did not consider such an investment “prudent,” meaning there were financial and ethical rationale for the decision. The management company has legacy investments, as limited partners in several private equity firms with holdings in the fossil fuel industry, amounting to less than 2 percent of the endowment, Mr Bako said.

The evangelical tone of Mr Bako’s announcement this week was different from 2019, when he faced protesters demanding disinvestment from fossil fuels and prisons. Mr Bako told protesters he would respond to “reason” rather than “pressure”.

In April 2020, as the election of the overseer approached, Mr Bako said that disinvestment “paints with a very broad brush.”

In this week’s announcement, he claimed that Harvard had appointed its first vice provost for climate and sustainability, and that it was “building a portfolio of investments in funds that support the transition to the green economy.”

The movement to influence the Board of Overseers found support from more prominent climate change advocates such as former Vice President Al Gore. But some Harvard alumni wrote an open letter saying that Harvard Forward was trying to “buy” the election by raising funds to support his campaign. The group responded that it was just “trying to democratize it.”

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The campaign for fossil fuel disinvestment at Harvard followed a playbook similar to the one used in 1986, when Gay Seidman, a Harvard alumnus who is now a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, petitioned an anti-apartheid forum. was run by and selected.

Other anti-apartheid candidates were elected in later years, such as Archbishop Tutu. Harvard argued that divestment could make the situation worse for black people in South Africa, but gradually began to disinvest from stocks belonging to South Africa.

Ellen Delaquerry Contributed to research.

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