Bill McKibben (“Shake Harvard free of oil stock,” Op-ed, April 8) believes that climate change presents great dangers for the world. We agree. McKibben has led a movement premised on the notion that divesting endowments from the fossil fuel industry, and thereby seeking to ostracize an industry on which we all rely to live our daily lives, is the right way to address this problem. We disagree, for reasons the university has detailed at length elsewhere. Our disagreement is over means. Insinuations that Harvard is not committed to confronting climate change because it does not embrace McKibben’s preferred tactic are simply and demonstrably wrong.
In recent years, Harvard faculty members have made many vital contributions in this area, such as creating an artificial leaf that mimics photosynthesis, designing new chemical processes to reduce fossil fuel dependence, developing new battery technologies, envisioning the future of green buildings and cities, proposing carbon pricing models, and helping to shape progress on international climate agreements, US energy policy, and strategies to reduce emissions in China. At the same time, we have expanded undergraduate and graduate studies in energy and the environment while reducing our campus greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20 percent.
We will continue to confront the problem of climate change in ways that a university as an academic institution most meaningfully can and should — through research, education, innovative sustainability practices, and thoughtful engagement with others who can help the world find real solutions to such a complex and consequential challenge.