Harvard will divest itself from holdings in fossil fuels, the university’s president, Lawrence Bacow, announced late on Thursday.
Harvard Management Company, which oversees the university’s vast endowment of almost $42bn, has already been reducing its financial exposure to fossil fuels and has no direct investments in companies that explore for or develop further reserves of fossil fuels, Bacow said in a message posted on the university’s website.
The university has legacy investments in a number of private equity funds with holdings in the fossil fuel industry. Those indirect investments constitute less than 2% of the endowment, according to Bacow.
The school has not made any new commitments to these limited partnerships since 2019 and has no intention to do so, he added.
Bacow said the legacy investments were in “runoff mode” and will end as these partnerships are liquidated.
Harvard has already committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the entire investment portfolio by 2050, he said.
“Given the need to decarbonize the economy and our responsibility as fiduciaries to make long-term investment decisions that support our teaching and research mission, we do not believe such investments are prudent,“ he wrote.
The decision follows years of protests from students who have pressed Harvard to divest from fossil fuel companies.
A campus campaign created almost a decade ago called Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard, reacted by saying: “It took conversations and protests, meetings with administration, faculty/alumni votes, mass sit-ins and arrests, historic legal strategies, and storming football fields. But today, we can see proof that activism works, plain and simple.”