Divestment: Harvard’s Investments in Fossil Fuels – The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Yale Advances in Shaping a Climate-Minded Portfolio” (Business Day, April 13):

Yale, for stated economic reasons and perhaps unstated ethical ones, has marked certain fossil fuel investments off-limits. Harvard has not. In the apparent hope of improving its recent returns, lower than Yale’s, Harvard will now become a significant “anchor” investor in distressed oil and gas companies.

In the future, when the history is written of what institutions did, or did not do, to mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change, the millions spent on research and teaching will fall in the positive column of universities’ ledgers. Just as surely, the hundreds of millions, even billions, invested in fossil fuel industries, especially those that conduct business as usual in exploration and extraction, will fall in the negative column, never to be erased.

At that time, it will be asked why institutions such as Harvard pursued financial gain in this form, knowing full well that they were contributing to large and growing human suffering and to shortened lives for many, especially the poor, who will come after them.


Cambridge, Mass.

The writer is a professor of literature at Harvard. Eighteen other Harvard professors signed the letter.

See related topic:


Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

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