Quantcast

72% of Harvard Students Vote to Divest from Fossil Fuels

Climate

350.org

On Nov. 16, the Harvard College Undergraduate Council announced that the student body had voted 72 percent in favor of Harvard University divesting its $30.7 billion endowment from fossil fuels.

Members of the Harvard chapter of Students for a Just and Stable Future have been campaigning since September to divest Harvard’s endowment from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel corporations that own the majority of the world’s oil, coal and gas reserves. 

Chloe Maxmin, a co-coordinator for Divest Harvard, said that the election results show unprecedented student voice around divestment: “In 1990, 52 percent of voting students supported complete divestment from apartheid South Africa. Today 72 percent of voting students are raising their voices for fossil divestment, telling Harvard to stop investing in companies that are threatening our future.”

Divest Harvard was the first student group in six years to successfully qualify a referendum question for Harvard student government elections, gaining hundreds of signatures beyond the 670 (10 percent of the undergraduate student body) necessary for qualification. The passage of the referendum makes fossil fuel divestment the official position of the Harvard College Undergraduate Council.

The Divest Harvard campaign, supported by Better Future Project and 350.org, is part of a quickly-growing fossil fuel divestment movement that has spread to more than 50 universities and colleges across the country. Inspired by the 1980s divestment movement the helped end apartheid in South Africa, the groups hope that fossil fuel divestment will help solve the climate crisis by stigmatizing the fossil fuel industry and supporting a clean energy future. 

350.org founder, and Harvard alum, Bill McKibben is currently on a 21-city Do the Math tour which is promoting fossil fuel divestment to sell-out audiences across the country. More than 2,000 people attended the event in Boston at the Orpheum Theater last Thursday night. 

“Forget the outcome of the Harvard-Yale game, nothing has made me prouder to be a Harvard alum than the news that its students are leading the country in standing up to coal and gas and oil,” said McKibben. “Let’s hope the Harvard Corporation cares as much about the future.”

The divestment campaign has scored some early victories across the country, with Unity College in Maine announcing they would fully divest their endowment and the Mayor of Seattle pledging to look into divesting city funds. 

Students at Harvard hope that the overwhelming support for the resolution will convince President Faust to end her refusal to meet with them to discuss divestment. The president recently stated in a public forum that Harvard University only divests in “the most extreme of circumstances” and that no issue made her feel “compelled to divest” at this time.

In the past, Harvard University has divested from tobacco corporations, corporations that supported the genocide in Darfur, and (in part) corporations involved in apartheid South Africa.

Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Colombia rainforest. Marcel Oosterwijk / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Torsten Krause

Many of us think of the Amazon as an untouched wilderness, but people have been thriving in these diverse environments for millennia. Due to this long history, the knowledge that Indigenous and forest communities pass between generations about plants, animals and forest ecology is incredibly rich and detailed and easily dwarfs that of any expert.

Read More Show Less
picture-alliance / Newscom / R. Ben Ari

By Wesley Rahn

Plastic byproducts were found in 97 percent of blood and urine samples from 2,500 children tested between 2014 and 2017, according to a study by the German Environment Ministry and the Robert Koch Institute.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

Medically reviewed by Daniel Bubnis, MS, NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS

Written by James Roland

Hot yoga has become a popular exercise in recent years. It offers many of the same benefits as traditional yoga, such as stress reduction, improved strength, and flexibility.

Read More Show Less
Lara Hata / iStock / Getty Images

By SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

Rice is a staple in many people's diets. It's filling, inexpensive, and a great mild-tasting addition to flavorful dishes.

Read More Show Less
Hinterhaus Productions / DigitalVision / Getty Images

By Lindsay Campbell

From pastries to plant-based—we've got you covered.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
An image of the trans-alaskan oil pipeline that carries oil from the northern part of Alaska all the way to valdez. This shot is right near the arctic national wildlife refuge. kyletperry / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The Trump administration has initialized the final steps to open up nearly 1.6 million acres of the protected Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to allow oil and gas drilling.

Read More Show Less
Westend61 / Getty Images

By Elizabeth Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Vegetarianism has become increasingly popular in recent years.

Read More Show Less
Kaboompics / Pexels

Tensions between lawmakers and several large manufacturing companies came to a head on Capitol Hill this week during a hearing on toxic fluorochemicals in U.S. drinking water.

Read More Show Less