Students at Harvard File Lawsuit Over Fossil Fuels

A lawsuit was filed against Harvard University last week by seven of the university’s students. The complaint was entered into the courts in an attempt to force the Harvard Corporation to divest from fossil fuels. The official suit filed, asks the university to abstain from any further investments in gas, coal and oil, which is totals its $36.4 billion capital gifted from benefactors.

One of the students involved in the complaint, Benjamin Franta, says “Climate change is now causing harm through mortality, economic damage and political instability. The Harvard Corporation has a moral and legal duty to avoid investing in activities that cause such grave harms to its students and the public.”

The spokesman for the for the Ivy League school, Jeff Neal, says that the issue of climate change is not being ignored. The officials at Harvard agree that action needs to be taken, but “differ on the means” that are required to do so.

The debate over the Harvard Corporation’s involvement in fossil fuels is nothing new and was addressed in a letter written by Harvard President Drew Faust in October of 2013. In the letter she states of climate change, “one of the world’s most consequential challenges”. She too states that divesting from the industry isn’t something that the university was open to.

Her letter to the Harvard community went on to say, “The funds in our endowment have been given to us by generous benefactors over many years to advance academic aims, not to serve other purposes, however worthy. The endowment is a resource, not an instrument to impel social or political change.”

The group of students filing the lawsuit feel that they are not just taking action for current generations, but also for the betterment of future generations. They also feel that by divesting from fossil fuel companies, that the Harvard Corporation will serve as a powerful representation of progressive movement towards a cleaner planet.

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