Climate change is a political issue front-and-center on the 2020 presidential campaign trail, the media, and also on college and university campuses. Recent news from Harvard University further reinforced academia’s climate change activism when its faculty voted in favor of Harvard University divesting from fossil fuel companies in its investment portfolios.
Harvard’s art and science faculty voted in favor of fossil fuel divestment 179-20 and proposed that Harvard Management Company end all fossil fuel investments. The proposal also demanded the removal of any advisors who would be “unwilling or unable to comply” with divestment. The vote came after a months-long debate about Harvard’s role in fighting climate change.
As usual, faculty votes like this one are non-binding and are solely an advisory vote, but faculty members use these votes to pressure administrators to acknowledge or comply with their demands. Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow said that the faculty resolution will be forwarded to the university’s management company, but said that Harvard’s endowment should not be used as a social change mechanism.
The university’s statement, in part, read: “The commitments made in Harvard’s Climate Action Plan explicitly recognize what the science has made clear: the world must move quickly to end its use of fossil fuels. While we agree on the urgency of this global challenge, we respectfully disagree with divestment activists on the means by which a university should confront it.”
The aforementioned Climate Action Plan called for the university to become fossil fuel-neutral by 20205 and fossil fuel-free by 2050.