Harvard’s sevenfold increase in oil and gas investments in the third quarter of 2014 flies in the face of campaigns urging the university to divest from fossil fuels. Photograph: Paul Weiskel/Corbis
Suzanne Goldenberg Wed 14 Jan 2015 07.40 EST
Harvard has newly invested tens of millions of dollars in oil and gas companies, rebuffing campaigners’ demands to sever the wealthy university’s ties to the companies that cause climate change.
The university’s refusal to withdraw an $32.7bn endowment from fossil fuels has frustrated campaigners and resulted in a law suit brought by seven Harvard students. The university – the world’s richest – is due to appear in court next month.
Now it emerges Harvard increased its holdings in publicly traded oil and gas companies by a factor of seven during the third financial quarter of 2014, the latest data available.
The new investments increased Harvard’s stake in oil and gas companies – including those involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and fracking – from $11.8m (£7.8m) to about $79.5m, according to an analysis of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings by campus divestment activists.
Jim Recht, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and a supporter of the divestment campaign, described the new oil and gas holdings as “blood money” and said they indicated Harvard’s unwillingness to review its policies despite the growing awareness of the dangers of climate change.
“That’s blood money,” he said. “It is making money out of something we see as fundamentally illicit.”