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Harvard's Hesitant Move to Cleaner Energy

Harvard has lagged behind many other colleges and universities in tackling the transition to a carbon-neutral future. Finally it has committed to curbing its use of fossil fuels, but its investment portfolio - replete with fossil fuel corporate holdings - remains intact. In a letter to the editor of the Boston Herald today, I call on the university to exercise long-overdue leadership in cleaning up its endowment. I am responding to a short AP article which lauds Harvard for committing to cease using fossil fuels to meet its operational needs by 2050. Here's the text of the letter:

Harvard Must Do More - Boston Herald, Feb. 20, 2018

Harvard is to be commended for its commitment to cease using fossil fuels by 2050, and to become carbon-neutral even sooner through offsetting its ongoing emissions by 2026. In adopting this policy, Harvard joins many other American colleges and universities that have already made similar commitments.

Parting ways with fossil fuels isn't just about running campus operations on clean energy resources, however. For years now, Harvard President Drew Faust and other university administrators have resisted a broad campaign of students, faculty and alumni calling on the university to rid its $36 billion endowment of fossil fuels.

The Harvard Management Co. announced last summer that it would "pause" its fossil fuel investments, but this leaves wide open the question of what the university plans to do with its very substantial legacy holdings.

When will this world-class university demonstrate unambiguous leadership on an issue so fundamental to our global future?