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Harvard Management Company Joins Climate Action Initiative

Harvard Management Company is housed in the Boston Federal Reserve Building.
Harvard Management Company is housed in the Boston Federal Reserve Building. By Karina G. Gonzalez-Espinoza
By Alexandra A. Chaidez and Aidan F. Ryan, Crimson Staff Writers

The Harvard Management Company — the University’s financial arm — has signed onto the Climate Action 100+, a group of investors committed to pushing greenhouse gas emitters to take action on climate change initiatives, Harvard announced Tuesday evening.

The new initiative provides investors the opportunity for “direct engagement” with companies that are among the highest annual industrial emitters, such as oil and gas companies, according to a press release. Some of the goals of the Climate Action 100+ initiative include cutting carbon emissions and improving disclosure of any carbon-related fiances.

University President Lawrence S. Bacow said in the release that Harvard has created “another significant channel” to counter the issue of climate change.

“Harvard has a critical role in tackling climate change, starting with the far-reaching efforts of our faculty, students, and staff to understand the impacts of climate change and to devise technologies and strategies that can accelerate the transition to cleaner, greener energy,” Bacow said. “In joining Climate Action 100+, we create another significant channel for engaging with companies around the imperative to adopt sustainable practices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The University’s announcement comes amid continuing calls for the school to divest its endowment from fossil fuels. Despite criticism from Harvard students, faculty, and staff, Bacow and members of the Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — have remained steadfast that Harvard should not use its endowment to deal with climate change and should instead engage with companies in which it invests to address the issue.

Launched in December 2017, Climate Change 100+ includes other university endowments like that of the University of California system’s — which announced Tuesday it would make their $13.4 billion endowment “fossil free” by the end of September.

William F. Lee ’72, senior fellow of the Corporation, said in the release that joining the initiative will allow the University to collaborate with other investors to address emissions issues.

“We are hopeful that, together with our partners in this important initiative, we can help catalyze measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of companies across the globe,” Lee said.

Signing onto the Climate Action 100+ buttresses other climate change conscious initiatives HMC has developed over the past several years. In 2014, HMC created its Sustainable Investing Policy which provided an overview of how to integrate environmental, social, and corporate factors into their investments.

HMC also signed onto the Principles for Responsible Investment — a United Nations-supported organization for investors to consider integrating environmental, social, and governance considerations into investments.

Kathryn I. Murtagh — managing director for sustainable investing at HMC — said in the release that HMC was “excited” to expand the company’s efforts to engage with other investors in the Climate Action 100+ program.

“For the past five years, we’ve seen firsthand from our collaborations through the Principles for Responsible Investment — on issues such as climate change lobbying and methane gas emissions — that engaging directly with corporations can affect significant positive change in their operations,” Murtagh said.

—Staff writer Alexandra A. Chaidez can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @a_achaidez.

—Staff writer Aidan F. Ryan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @AidanRyanNH.

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