Target: L. Rafael Reif, MIT President
Goal: Make divestment from fossil fuels part of MIT’s climate change action plan.
MIT recently announced a five-year climate action plan, however, the plan does not include divestment of the university’s $12.4 billion in fossil fuels. They assert that by remaining financially invested in the industry, they will be able to engage with it and work for change from the inside. In a seemingly contradictory argument, they also state that full divestment would have a negligible impact on energy companies. It is unclear how continued investments of money which wouldn’t impact the industry will encourage the industry to engage with MIT, or anyone else, to reduce the effects of climate change.
MIT’s five-year plan does include eliminating use of fossil fuels on campus by 2019 and reducing overall carbon emissions by at least 32 percent by 2030. The plan also calls for eight “low-carbon energy centers” which will partner with companies and entrepreneurs to develop renewable energy sources with a focus on solar, nuclear, and energy storage. It’s estimated that each center will require around $8 million funding annually for five years, leaving a large funding gap and questions as to whether the program will even get off the ground.
In a capitalist society, voting with dollars has the most immediate impact. Tell MIT they must add divestment from fossil fuels to their five-year climate action plan.
Dear President Reif,
MIT’s endowment currently includes a $12.4 billion investment in fossil fuels. This money is largely insignificant to the industry, but MIT asserts that keeping the funds invested will enable MIT to engage with the industry and work for change from inside. While the five-year plan recently announced contains some great ideas, failing to include divesting MIT’s funds is a mistake that needs to be corrected.
MIT and its endowment funds are merely part of the larger capitalist society. As such, voting with dollars is the most impactful and immediate way to create change. MIT has the opportunity to lead the way by divesting their funds and setting an example for colleges and universities across the country to do the same. We urge MIT to revisit this aspect of the plan and reconsider their decision to remain invested in fossil fuels.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: John Phelan