UPDATED: As part of a #BeyondEarthDay set of direct actions, students at Harvard University launched a sit-in at their president’s office at 6 am this morning and have since been joined by hundreds of supporters. They are demanding the Ivy League school divest from its fossil fuel holdings.
The Energy Action Coalition isued this call for public support:
Right now, dozens of brave students at Harvard University just started a sit-in outside their President’s office — and they need our support!
Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the country, and they could show real leadership on the climate crisis by divesting from fossil fuels. Despite broad demand from students, faculty and alumni, Harvard is refusing to consider divestment – so the students are ramping it up, and we’ve got to stand with them!
In order to ramp up the pressure on Harvard, we need to make this a nationwide fight; students at Harvard are taking the lead, but we can send a powerful message by showing President Drew Faust that thousands across the country stand with them.
Over 72% of students at Harvard support divesting from fossil fuels and just two weeks ago over 100 faculty joined the campaign by releasing a public letter to President Faust.
The dozens of students sitting-in are showing the sort of courage and leadership that we’re demanding from President Faust — let’s make sure she knows it!
Bold actions like this are upping the pressure to divest on presidents and trustees nationwide. Students across the country are organizing #BeyondEarthDay actions to demand our campuses go beyond business as usual and make real commitments to social and environmental justice. Today, we stand with Divest Harvard with the knowledge that it is only one of the first campaigns to escalate and many more will follow in their footsteps.
Here’s what Harvard students are demanding and why:
Divest Harvard calls upon Harvard University to:
immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuel companies
immediately divest direct holdings (currently $17.3 million) from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies
divest indirect holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel companies within 5 years, and reinvest in socially responsible funds.
Global warming has already begun to take its toll on our communities. Hurricane Sandy’s devastating power, the scorching drought across the Midwest, and the wildfires that raged through Colorado last year demonstrate the damage that global warming can cause to our society and economy. Millions of people are and will be affected.
Higher education institutions like Harvard exist as investments in the future for their students and their countries. Yet, while investing in our future, Harvard simultaneously invests its $32.7 billion endowment in corporations that threaten our future and that of our planet by causing the climate crisis.
We are targeting the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel corporations for two reasons. First, these corporations are largely responsible for political gridlock that impedes the passage of climate legislation. Through divestment, we aim to highlight the rogue status of the fossil fuel industry and rebrand them as social pariahs. Secondly, 80% of global carbon reserves must be kept in the ground in order to limit global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius (the upper warming limit set by the UN). The share prices of public fossil fuel corporations are inflated by the illusion that all of their reserves will be burned and become profit. But this scenario is incompatible with any hope for the future of our planet. When government regulation limits fossil fuel use, fossil fuel companies will need to leave their reserves in the ground, thereby devaluing their share price. Harvard thus puts its endowment at risk by investing in fossil fuel corporations.
Harvard has stood for centuries as a beacon of knowledge, discovery, and service and should not put its long-term survival at risk for small short-term gains. Investing in fossil fuel corporations jeopardizes Harvard’s institutional resilience and integrity as well as the future of its students. To maintain intellectual consistency and live up to the values that it promotes, Harvard must divest.