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Harvard commits to divesting from fossil fuels

Harvard Yard.Adam Glanzman/Photographer: Adam Glanzman/Bloo

After years of pressure from students, Harvard University will divest itself from holdings in fossil fuels, President Lawrence Bacow said Thursday.

Harvard Management Company, which oversees the university’s $41.9 billion endowment, will let its existing investments in several private equity funds with fossil fuel holdings expire, Bacow said in an e-mail to the university community.

Fossil fuels investments make up less than 2 percent of the endowment, and the university has not made any new commitments to those investments since 2019, Bacow said.

“HMC was the first endowment in the country to commit to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the entire investment portfolio by 2050,” Bacow said. “Since we announced this commitment, a number of other endowments have followed our lead. We will work with them and others to achieve greater transparency in the greenhouse gas footprint of all of our investment managers, along with the development of protocols for assessing and reducing the footprint for entire investment portfolios.”


Students have pressed administrators for years to cut ties to fossil fuels, staging protests and filing a complaint earlier this year with the state attorney general’s office.

Bacow said he considers fossil fuel investments imprudent in light of the administration’s responsibility to make decisions that support the mission of the university’s teaching and research.

He said Harvard is committed to other environmental measures, including eliminating the use of fossil fuels to power campus buildings and vehicles by 2050, a plan the university announced in 2018.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at Follow him @jeremycfox.