Momentum on Fossil Fuel Divestment Grows as Harvard Professors, Desmond Tutu Call for Action

11.04.2014 - Democracy Now!

Momentum on Fossil Fuel Divestment Grows as Harvard Professors, Desmond Tutu Call for Action
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Momentum is growing in the movement to divest from fossil fuel companies. On Thursday, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for an anti-apartheid-style boycott and disinvestment campaign against the industry for its role in driving climate change. Meanwhile, nearly 100 members of the faculty at Harvard University released an open letter calling on the Ivy League school to sell off its interests in oil, gas and coal companies. “If the Corporation regards divestment as ‘political,’ then its continued investment is a similarly political act, one that finances present corporate activities and calculates profit from them,” wrote the professors. “Slavery was once an investment issue, as were apartheid and the harm caused by smoking.” Harvard has the largest university endowment in the country, worth more than $32 billion. We speak to James Anderson, professor of chemistry and Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University. He is one of the signatories to the letter urging Harvard to divest from the fossil fuel industry. He has done groundbreaking work exposing the link between climate change and ozone loss. We also speak to Jamie Henn, co-founder of the climate change-focused organization, 350.org.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Momentum is growing in the movement to divest from fossil fuel companies. On Thursday, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu voiced his support for an anti-apartheid-style boycott and divestment campaign against the industry for its role in driving climate change. In an article published in The Guardian, Tutu wrote, “People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change. We can, for instance, boycott events, sports teams and media programming sponsored by fossil-fuel energy companies.” Tutu went on to write, quote, “We can encourage more of our universities and municipalities and cultural institutions to cut their ties to the fossil-fuel industry.” Last year, Desmond Tutu appeared in a video backing the fossil fuel divestment campaign.

DESMOND TUTU: The divestment movement played a key role in helping liberate South Africa. The corporations understood the logic of money, even when they weren’t swayed by the dictates of morality. Climate change is a deeply moral issue, too, of course. Here in Africa, we see the dreadful suffering of people from worsening drought, from rising food prices, from floods, even though they’ve done nothing to cause the situation. Once again, we can join together as a world and put pressure where it counts.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In other divestment news, nearly 100 members of the faculty at Harvard University released an open letter Thursday calling on the Ivy League school to sell off its interests in oil, gas and coal companies. Harvard has the largest university endowment in the country, worth over $32 billion. The Harvard faculty letter was published just three days after the university’s president, Drew Faust, rejected earlier calls to divest from fossil fuel firms. Instead, Faust announced the school would become a signatory to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment.

AMY GOODMAN: In the letter, the professors write, quote, “If the Corporation regards divestment as ‘political,’ then its continued investment is a similarly political act, one that finances present corporate activities and calculates profit from them.

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