Published on September 17th, 2015 | by Joshua S Hill9
MIT Under Mounting Pressure To Divest From Fossil Fuels
September 17th, 2015 by Joshua S Hill
An open letter signed by 33 hugely-prominent names has called on MIT to divest fossil fuel investments from its $12.4 billion endowment.
Climatologist James Hansen, actor Mark Ruffalo, MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund President Stephen Heintz are among the 33 names signed to the open letter, which urges “the world’s foremost citadel of science” to divest from fossil fuels.
“We write — as interested scientists, alumni, and citizens — to ask that you cap off MIT’s exemplary study into fossil fuel divestment by committing the university to selling its stock in fossil fuel companies as part of a multi-faceted climate action plan,” they write, which itself follows recommendations made by the MIT President’s own Climate Change Conversation committee to divest from coal, tar sands, and potentially from climate-denying corporations.
“Divestment is not only financially prudent but also politically effective, scientifically consistent, and morally right,” write the authors of the letter, whose signatories include 350.org founder Bill McKibben, author and climate advisor to the Pope Naomi Klein, science broadcaster David Suzuki, Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellow MIT Professor Junot Díaz, Nobel Laureate and former MIT psychiatrist Eric Chivian, and Zipcar founder and MIT alumna Robin Chase.
The letter, addressed to MIT President Rafael Reif, who is serving as the 17th President of MIT since July 2012, is in no way hesitant to label the issue as “the singular great issue of our time,” and that MIT has “an opportunity … to provide great leadership by divesting the Institute’s endowment from fossil fuels as part of a comprehensive climate action plan.”
These 33 signatories are not the only ones calling for MIT to take a stand on climate change by divesting, however. Over 3,000 MIT community members, including students, undergrads, and 43% of the Class of 2017, signed a petition “telling MIT to take the lead against climate change by divesting from the fossil fuel industry.” 83 members of the MIT faculty wrote their own open letter, as did a group of 29 student groups.
And in a striking display, the Cambridge City Council, of Massachusetts, passed resolution R-10 officially “commending MIT’s Presidential Advisory Committee on Climate Change on their bold endorsement of divestment.”
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