Harvard Faculty Urges University to Divest From Fossil Fuels

A group of Harvard University faculty has joined a student-led effort to force the Ivy League school to divest from fossil-fuel companies.

An open letter released today and signed by almost 100 members of the faculty calls on Harvard to sell interests in oil, gas and coal companies held in its $32.7 billion endowment. It was addressed to Drew Faust, the university’s president, and the fellows of the Harvard Corporation, the group of trustees that oversees the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Ivy League school.

The faculty members said there is no evidence “that planned divestment would damage” Harvard, the world’s richest school. It said the aim of the campaign was to “expose corporate attitudes and change corporate behavior.”

In October, Faust said in the wake of a campaign led by students that she didn’t believe “university divestment from the fossil-fuel industry is warranted or wise.” Harvard is among dozens of schools that have resisted a growing divestment movement that has spread across U.S. campuses in the past two years.

“The university can more effectively address climate change through teaching and research while reducing greenhouse gases on campus,” Faust said in a letter at the time.

While Harvard has resisted calls to divest, it hired a vice president of sustainable investing last year. This week, it agreed to sign the United Nations-supported principles for responsible investment, a network “committed to integrating environmental, social, and governance considerations into their investment practices,” the university said in an April 7 statement.

The faculty group said in today’s letter that Harvard is being inconsistent by committing to reducing greenhouse gases on its campus, “while maintaining investments that promote their increase locally and worldwide.”

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