Harvard students are targeting university buildings in a protest against Harvard’s continued investment in fossil fuel companies. On Sunday, roughly 200 students blocked the main door of Massachusetts Hall—the location of Harvard President Drew Faust’s office—as part of Harvard Heat Week. Faust has been a staunch opponent of divesting the university’s $36.4 billion endowment and previously dismissed the tactics of student group Divest Harvard as “coercive.” The group has vowed to blockade Massachusetts Hall until Friday, April 17, and has expanded its demonstration to include the Harvard Alumni Association, where 12 University alumni plan to stay overnight. Actions will continue throughout the week, including activist trainings, student and faculty forums, and daily rallies. The escalation at Harvard is yet another example of the rising confidence of the divestment movement, which argues that institutions need to take a stand on climate change by refusing to bankroll fossil fuels companies. Divestment is veering quickly towards the mainstream as more and more institutions nix their fossil fuel investments and high profile leaders, including the World Bank’s Jim Yong Kim, line up to voice their support.
- Harvard students are turning up the heat on university administration to divest. For several years, Harvard students, professors, and alumni have been waging a high-profile divestment battle with university leaders. Harvard Heat Week is the biggest escalation yet in the fight to get the world’s richest university to “stand on the right side of history” by selling off its fossil fuel investments.
- Divestment is a powerful tool for addressing the climate crisis. By removing investments in fossil fuels, institutions can refuse to bankroll fossil fuel companies that are enabling climate change and aggressively lobbying to maintain the dangerous status quo. Divestment campaigns against tobacco and South African apartheid were successful, and fossil fuel divestment could prove to be even more so. According to an Oxford University study, fossil fuel divestment is growing faster than any previous divestment campaign and could cause significant damage to coal, oil and gas companies.
- It’s not just students—activists worldwide are pushing fossil fuel divestment. The fossil fuel divestment movement has seen exponential growth beyond its beginnings on a few American campuses. At present, over 500 divestment campaigns are active at universities, cities, churches, banks, pension funds and other institutions around the world and hundreds of institutions representing billions of dollars have divested. Meanwhile, the momentum keeps growing: earlier this month, campaigners scored a huge victory when Syracuse University decided to remove exclude fossil fuel investments from its $1.18 billion endowment, making it the biggest university yet to do so.
- In blockade’s second day, divest expands protest to HAA (Harvard Crimson)
- Group continues protest over Harvard fossil-fuel portfolio (Boston Globe)
- Harvard blockade of Faust’s office escalates climate protest (Bloomberg)
- Members of faculty for Divestment participate in ‘Heat Week’ (Harvard Crimson)
- Activist group protests fossil-fuel portfolio at Harvard (Boston Globe)
- Calling for divestment, protesters block Mass. Hall (Harvard Crimson)
- Harvard students blockade campus President’s office as fossil fuel divestment movement spreads to universities, institutions (International Business Times)
- Protesters surround Mass. Hall in “Heat Week” action (Harvard Magazine)
- 200 Protesters block building entrance to kick off Harvard ‘Heat Week’ demanding divestment from fossil fuels (EcoWatch)
- Harvard’s Heat Week sparks fire for fossil fuel divestment (Inside Climate News)
- Frustrated Divest Harvard turns to further civil disobedience (Harvard Crimson)
Harvard students block campus building to push fossil fuel divestment (NPR)
- Harvard divestment campaigners gear up for a week of action (Guardian)
Tools & Resources
- Live updates: Divest Harvard blockades University Hall (Harvard Crimson)
- Blog: Harvard students and alumni launch weeklong sit-in for fossil fuel divestment (Huffington Post)
- Tree podcast: Communicating around divestment
- Report: Harvard’s financing of CO2 emissions from the reserves of fossil fuel companies (Fossil Free Indexes)
- Report: Unburnable carbon (Carbon Tracker)
Report: Stranded assets and the fossil fuel divestment campaign (University of Oxford)
- Briefing: A step-by-step guide to divestment (350.org)
- Briefing: Debunking myths about fossil fuel divestment (Go Fossil Free)
- List: Divestment commitments (Go Fossil Free)
- “Harvard’s inaction is providing safe cover for those reluctant to change the status quo. As Harvard students, we think our university’s reputation can be used to create positive change, not just harmful passivity… By raising the temperature of debate on campus, we expose the gap between the values of our institution and their actions.” – Ted Hamilton, student at Harvard Law School and organizer with Divest Harvard
- “Our trust in Harvard is broken. In the face of the climate crisis, Harvard is profiting from the same companies that are undermining the scientific knowledge that is being advanced by this university” – Kelsey Wirth, Harvard alumna and founder of the organization Mothers Out Front
- “When I was a student back in the 1980s we were trying to get Harvard to divest from apartheid. It’s amazing how similar that fight was to the fight today. To us it was always as clear as day who was on the right side of history.” – Harvard alumnus and director Darren Aronofsky
Related Tree Alerts
- UN backs divestment as Oxford Uni delays decision to drop fossil fuels
- Fossil-free investments outperform conventional stocks, quashing divestment doubts
- Campaigners up pressure on investors to ditch fossil fuels
- Fossil fuel divestment heating up, with councils and universities under pressure
- MT @whitjones: Amazing that @Harvard adminis would choose to work from home rather than open a convo w/ @DivestHarvard, @billmckibben
- RT @collinrees: #HarvardHeatWeek on FIRE as heat ratchets up! 40+ students blockading 2 admin buildings & 9 alumni occupying office.
- MT @Agent350: Report from the scene of @DivestHarvard and #harvardheatweek sit-in up in @HuffingtonPost–with photos! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-henn/harvard-students-and-alumni-launch-weeklong-sit-in-for-fossil-fuel-divestment_b_7052244.html
- MT @RevYearwood: So proud of both @DivestHarvard kicking off #harvardheatweek & @NYjusticeleague kicking off #March2Justice Thank U all!
- MT @billmckibben: Here’s letter to Harvard alumni officials asking, that they be the 1st folks at Hvd to dialogue http://harvardheatweek.org/a-letter-from-the-alumni-spending-the-night-inside-harvards-alumni-association/