ONCE AGAIN, the Globe published a misleading opinion piece on the fossil fuel divestment movement. This time business columnist Steven Syre joins Alex Beam and Tom Keane in missing the point (“Drive to dump coal stocks won’t bring any clean results,” Business, June 23). Of course divestment in and of itself is not the solution; the purpose is to change the political dynamics so that we can have serious policy debates about solutions. The G7 nations just acknowledged that we must make the great transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.
The debate now is about how quickly we must achieve this goal. It is curious to us that Mr. Syre does not bring up the question of stranded assets, which has received a lot of attention from his peers in the mainstream financial press as an emerging primary concern for all fiduciaries. That should make Syre want to fire the financial adviser who is too slow to get rid of coal! Nor does he acknowledge that the fossil fuel industry has used its vast wealth to fund campaigns of denialism and misinformation, while lobbying at all levels of government to maintain the status quo and retard the development of alternatives.
At a State House hearing two weeks ago on the state pension fund divestment bill sponsored by Senator Ben Downing and Representative Marjorie Decker, the Reverend Fred Small correctly labeled this behavior inter-generational theft. Ironically, lobbyist Steve Dodge of the Massachusetts Petroleum Council — like Syre — cited Harvard President Drew Faust’s refusal to divest as evidence against divestment.
Faust is acting contrary to the wishes of 75 percent of the student body, some 250 faculty members, and thousands of alumni. The student activists at Harvard and M.I.T are asking the question: Whose side are you on, those who profit from slowing and stopping the transition, or those who are striving to accelerate it? We invite Syre and the Globe to join Pope Francis; we certainly know where he stands!
Dumont, Susan Redlich, Richard Clapp