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Published on March 8th, 2016 | by Joshua S Hill

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116 Day MIT Sit-in Ends In Mediocre Deal For Climate Action

March 8th, 2016 by  

After 116 days, the Fossil Free MIT sit-in has ended with the announcement of an agreement for a deal on climate action.

MIT-2The 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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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.



  • Dragon

    116 days is impressive but I wonder what that really means. A few students sitting in shifts? A whole lot of students sitting in shifts? One student?

    It’s sad that they gave up without any major commitments but on the other hand, if 116 days had no effect it’s unlikely that staying longer would accomplish more. They need to try other things.

  • Otis11

    It ended because they gave up and took anything they could get (aka, a pat on the head).

  • joshua

    MIT won’t be hopping on this train until all that beautiful Koch money dries up.

  • neroden

    It’s impressive how stupid many of the major universities are about their investments. They just set fire to their endowments by investing based on habit.

    Never assume that a fancy salary and a fancy degree indicate any sort of intelligence.

  • JamesWimberley

    The reports coming out from MIT energy specialists are pretty pro-nuclear (read advanced horse buggies) and don’t show real familiarity with renewables. I don’t recall many reports from Tina from MIT on either wind or solar tech innovation – contrast EPFL Lausanne, UNSW, Oxford, or UCLA. They did the seminal report on EGS geothermal, which has not yet panned out. Losing ground.

    • Ivor O’Connor

      Why do you bring up Tina?

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