After 116 days, the Fossil Free MIT sit-in has ended with the announcement of an agreement for a deal on climate action.
The longest ever sit-in for fossil fuel divestment concluded this earlier this month when an agreement was reached between student activists from Fossil Free MIT and MIT’s Vice President for Research, Maria Zuber.
“This agreement isn’t everything I was hoping to see—it’s missing fossil fuel divestment, and MIT still has more work to do to align itself with a 2°C future,” said Jeremy Poindexter, an MIT graduate student and member of Fossil Free MIT. “But it’s progress, and it shows that principled, direct action can get real results. Sometimes taking a stand means sitting down.”
In fact, in comparison to previous university fossil fuel divestment campaigns, the MIT protesters seem to have given up relatively easy. The relatively uninspiring news is summed up by the following vague opening comments in a joint statement:
Over the course of many productive conversations during the last few months, Maria Zuber, MIT’s Vice President for Research, and members of the student-led group Fossil Free MIT (FFMIT) have discussed their shared interests with respect to accelerating solutions to the urgent problem of global climate change.
The resulting agreement between MIT and its students has yielded four areas that MIT will build upon and work to enhance its existing Plan for Action on Climate Change. These include aspiring “to carbon neutrality as soon as possible”; the formation of a “climate action advisory committee to advise and consult” on MIT’s Plan; the committee will work to “identify, develop, and publish engagement strategies and benchmarks”; and “Vice President Zuber will convene a forum to explore ethical dimensions of the climate issue.”
All in all, it appears as if MIT has given up nothing while managing to divest themselves of a pesky sit-in protest.
“Targeted fossil fuel divestment is a crucial missing step, but we’re working with what we’ve got,” commented Josué Lopez, a Fossil Free MIT member and PhD student. “MIT wants to engage the fossil fuel industry, but engagement without accountability is a recipe for inaction. This agreement lays the groundwork for steering our partners to behavior and business plans consistent with 2°C. I’m glad that we’re part of this process, and if these companies don’t step up to the plate, we’ll be right here urging MIT to hold them accountable.”
The student protesters seem to be aware of what little they have accomplished, but the reason why they’ve let their sit-in lapse in favor for such a mediocre agreement remains unseen.
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