Thursday 29th September 2016                 Change text size:

Harvard faces court over fossil fuel divestment



harvard by See-ming Lee via flickr

Harvard, the world’s richest university, is set to appear in court over calls to divest from fossil fuels, Harvard is asking the court to dismiss the case against it. A group of students filed a lawsuit against Harvard for “mismanagement of charitable funds”.

The suit, filed by seven students, argues that fossil fuel investments are damaging to the university’s reputation and its students future prospects. The group also accuses Harvard of putting profit ahead of the threats that climate change poses.

The university has also faced pressure from staff, in April 2014, 93 professors from the university signed an open letter that labelled the president’s attitude to climate change as “contradictory” and argued that divesting from fossil fuels is an act of “ethical responsibility”.

Despite signing the Principles for Responsible Investment and setting up a $20 million (£13m) climate fund, the school has maintained that it will not cut fossil fuels out of its portfolio.

Speaking to the Guardian, Alice Cherry, one of the students that filed the lawsuit, said, “This is important to us because climate change is supposed to be a huge problem and so far our existing institutions have been unable to address it in a way that is commensurate with the problem.

“We think it is past time for our legal system to have something to say about it.”

Despite facing calls for divestment from both students and academics, reports last month suggested that Harvard actually increased its investment in the fossil fuels industry. During the third financial quarter of 2014 the university increased its investment in polluting energy sources from $11.8 million (£7.7m) to around $79.5 million (£52m).

Photo: See-ming Lee via flickr

Further reading:

Harvard increases fossil fuel investment despite calls to divest

Students criticise Harvard’s ‘false neutrality’ over fossil fuel divestment

Harvard academics rally for ‘ethically responsible’ fossil fuels divestment

Fighting climate change is a moral obligation, Seattle mayor tells Harvard president

Yes, we too can profit by killing the planet because… we’re Harvard


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