photo above: Harvard and Yale students took to the field during halftime of a 2019 NCAA college football game to protest investments in fossil fuels. | Nic Antaya/The Boston Globe via AP, File
THE DAM BREAKS — Academic endowments are entering a new normal after Harvard University, the richest school in the world, said it would divest from fossil fuels.
The decision wasn’t made lightly. The nearly $42 billion endowment succumbed to years of pressure from students and climate activists, a massive protest at a 2019 football game, and a string of legal efforts. President Lawrence Bacow in the past has said the endowment shouldn’t be used for political ends. Earlier this month he changed his tune.
“None of us will be spared the realities of climate change, which means we are all in this together,” he wrote.
This isn’t about Harvard. It’s about the beginning of the end. A cascade of similar announcements has followed in Harvard’s wake, with Boston University, the University of Minnesota and the $8 billion MacArthur Foundation pulling the plug on fossil fuels. And there are more to come.
A steady accumulation of schools over the past decade have taken the plunge to divest, starting with Maine’s Unity College in 2012. The list now includes Georgetown University, Cornell University, the University of California, Syracuse University and Brown University.
Crystal ball: Expect more divestment announcements in October leading into the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Scotland. POLITICO’s Jordan Wolman has the deets.
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