Tag Archives: Drew Faust

Solar vs. fossil fuel stocks

Should Harvard President Drew Faust worry that “Significantly constraining investment options risks significantly constraining investment returns”? Actually, if Harvard has been wasting investments in oil and gas for the past year, its endowment has lost a bundle. Ditto VSU.

Let’s compare stock performance of Guggenheim Solar ETF (NYSE:TAN) which invests in solar stocks with the PowerShares DB Energy Fund (NYSEARCA:DBE), which invests in oil and natural gas companies. Yep, that’s 120% for TAN and 0% for DBE:

TAN solar v DBE oil and gas 1 year

Sure, if you go back farther, solar stocks continued to drop after 2009 until this year: Continue reading

Our investments are political –Divest Harvard to Drew Faust

Divest Harvard summed it up:

Our investments ARE political.

And that’s just as true at VSU.

Not even Tim DeChristopher put it more pithily than that. Samantha Caravello wrote in the Harvard Law Record 7 October 2013, Pres. Faust, There’s Nothing Neutral About Investing in Climate Wreckage, noting that Pres. Faust’s excuses were actually in response to “an invitation from undergraduates to participate in an open forum on divesting Harvard’s $32 billion endowment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies.”

President Faust warned against using the endowment in ways that would position the university as a political actor, claiming Continue reading

Divestment is about undermining the political power of the fossil fuel industry –Tim DeChristopher

Answering Harvard President Drew Faust’s excuses,

Tim DeChristopher, who went to jail for directly opposing gas and oil drilling and is now a student at Harvard Divinity School,

To seriously suggest that any research will solve the climate crisis while we continue to allow the fossil fuel industry to maintain a stranglehold on our democracy is profoundly naive.

Wen Stephenson wrote for the Nation 4 October 2013, Tim DeChristopher: There Is No ‘Neutral’ in the Climate Fight, including DeChristopher’s statement:

Drew Faust seeks a position of neutrality in a struggle where the powerful only ask that people like her remain neutral. She says that Harvard’s endowment shouldn’t take a political position, and yet it invests in an industry that spends countless millions on corrupting our political system. In a world of corporate personhood, if she doesn’t want that money to be political, she should put it under her mattress. She has clearly forgotten the words of Paolo Freire: “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and powerless means to side with the powerful, not to remain neutral.” Or as Howard Zinn put succinctly, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.”

She touts Continue reading

Harvard excuses for not divesting from fossil fuels

Drew Faust wants us to believe Harvard can’t figure out how to power its own campus and vehicles on renewable solar, wind, wave, and tidal energy? Come on, pull the other one!

President Faust wrote that divestment would make Harvard appear “as a political actor rather than an academic institution”, that Harvard might not make enough money, that “Universities own a very small fraction of the market capitalization of fossil fuel companies”, and that “I also find a troubling inconsistency in the notion that, as an investor, we should boycott a whole class of companies at the same time that, as individuals and as a community, we are extensively relying on those companies’ products and services for so much of what we do every day.” The first three excuses would have applied just as much back in the 1980s when Harvard finally divested from companies dealing in apartheid in South Africa, a symbolic, and yes, political action that contributed markedly to the release of Nelson Mandela, the downfall of the apartheid regime, and later the election of Nelson Mandela as president of South Africa.

Harvard President Derek Bok, 18 May 1990, in a letter to students explaining the Unversity’s September 1989 decision to divest from tobacco companies, since completed:

In reaching its decision, the corporation was motivated by a desire not to be associated as a shareholder with companies engaged in significant sales of products that create a substantial and unjustified risk of harm to other human beings.

Harvard divestment was good enough for apartheid and tobacco.

In veritas, Harvard can have just as much or more influence by divesting from fossil fuels, and that cause is even more important for the whole world. In south Georgia truth, so can Valdosta State University in its own region.

Office of the President, Harvard, 3 October 2013, Fossil Fuel Divestment Statement; I added the links and images, all directly related to Harvard.

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

Continue reading

How to stop climate change: divest from fossil fuel companies

In response to a very downbeat diatribe by Bill McKibben in Rolling Stone on the occasion of the U.N.’s Rio+20 conference being some sound and less fury accomplishing not much about stopping climate change, [Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone, 19 July 2012, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math: Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – and that make clear who the real enemy is”] Chloe Maxmin, Divest Harvard Harvard student Chloe Maxmin followed up McKibben’s problem statement with a plan for what to do: divest from fossil fuel companies. [“In Honor of Kalamazoo: An Open Letter to Bill McKibben,” NextGenJournal, 25 July 2012, no longer online, referred to in a post the same day by Chloe Maxmin on First Here, Then Everywhere.] Maxmin didn’t just wish, either, she joined up with McKibben’s 350.org and helped organize Harvard students to do something about it: persuade Harvard to divest its shares of fossil fuel companies. Students at the University of Georgia, or at Valdosta State University, for that matter, could do the same.

Alli Welton wrote for 350.org 18 November 2012, 72% of Harvard Students Vote to Divest from Fossil Fuels,

Last Friday night, the Harvard College Undergraduate Council announced that the student body had voted 72% in favor of Harvard University divesting its $30.7 billion endowment from fossil fuels.

Members of the Harvard chapter of Students for a Just and Stable Future have been campaigning since September to divest Harvard’s endowment from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel corporations that own the majority of the world’s oil, coal, and gas reserves.

Harvard actually already has divested its shares of one fossil fuel company due to public pressure. Continue reading