Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Harvard says no to Bill McKibben

Harvard says no to eco-fundamentalist Bill McKibben and other radical environmentalists who have demanded that the university with the world's largest endowment divest of its holdings in the fossil fuel industry. Although paying lip service to the global warming alarmist cause, Harvard president Drew Faust is in her statement quite clear about the university's position. Faust - quite rightly - even suggests that the eco-fundamentalists are hypocritical:

While I share their belief in the importance of addressing climate change, I do not believe, nor do my colleagues on the Corporation, that university divestment from the fossil fuel industry is warranted or wise.
Harvard is an academic institution.  It exists to serve an academic mission — to carry out the best possible programs of education and research.  We hold our endowment funds in trust to advance that mission, which is the University’s distinctive way of serving society.  The funds in the endowment have been given to us by generous benefactors over many years to advance academic aims, not to serve other purposes, however worthy.  As such, we maintain a strong presumption against divesting investment assets for reasons unrelated to the endowment’s financial strength and its ability to advance our academic goals. --

I also find a troubling inconsistency in the notion that, as an investor, we should boycott a whole class of companies at the same time that, as individuals and as a community, we are extensively relying on those companies’ products and services for so much of what we do every day.  Given our pervasive dependence on these companies for the energy to heat and light our buildings, to fuel our transportation, and to run our computers and appliances, it is hard for me to reconcile that reliance with a refusal to countenance any relationship with these companies through our investments.

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