Ahead of this winter's United Nations conference on climate change in Paris, Harvard signed onto a pledge with 217 other institutions of higher learning to ask for an “ambitious agreement” at the summit and promise to “accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices across our campus.”
Harvard’s role in combating climate change has been a topic marked by contention in recent years. University President Drew G. Faust has argued repeatedly—in Washington, D.C., Beijing, and Cambridge—that universities should aid in abating climate change through their research initiatives and innovations, rather than through taking political stances with their endowments. Last year, Faust awarded $800,000 in grants as part of the Climate Change Solutions Fund.
Divest Harvard—a University-wide activist group calling on Harvard to divest its $37.6 billion endowment from fossil fuels—has consistently disagreed with Faust’s points, arguing instead that Harvard must take the lead in stigmatizing fossil fuel companies. Last year, the group held a series of demonstrations and occupations, including a week-long protest outside of Massachusetts Hall, which houses the offices of Faust and other top administrators.—Staff writer Theodore R. Delwiche can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @trdelwic