This letter was recently written by three Harvard undergraduates, Pennilynn R. Stahl, Krishna Dasaratha and Chloe Maxmin, on behalf of Divest Harvard, as part of the group's ongoing campaign to convice its university to divest all investments from the leading fossill-fuel companies. On Thursday, April 11, President Faust declined to meet with students herself but she did send a visibly tense Marc Goodheart, Vice President and Secretary of the University, outside to accept the signatures.
Dear President Faust,
During this past academic year, we have called upon Harvard to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies that own the majority of the world’s fossil fuel reserves. By sponsoring climate change through our investments, our University is threatening our generation’s future.
Fossil fuel companies are corrupt institutions. They have exploited their workers, violated treaty rights of indigenous groups, and poisoned local communities with little risk of retribution from these marginalized populations. Internationally, these corporations have allegedly been complicit in torture and murder as a means of protecting their reserves. In some cases, they have even been accused of provoking the execution of activists who opposed them.
The business practices of these corporations are directly linked to accelerating global warming. If these companies burn more than 20 percent of their reserves, our planet will likely be locked into irreversible warming at a rate above two degrees Celsius. Scientists agree that this will have devastating consequences. Human health, clean water, clean air, and reliable food supply will all be compromised by the widespread effects of climate change. Fossil fuel executives are choosing to sacrifice the wellbeing of our society in favor of their short-term profits. By investing in these companies, we are making the same choice.
The dominance of the fossil fuel industry is clearly incongruous with the futures of Harvard students and of our planet. The question is: How do we pass meaningful climate legislation that will reduce carbon emissions and promote renewable energy?