Divestment alleviates the gaping inconsistencies between MIT’s investments and MIT’s scientific mission and moral authority. 

Shooting ourselves in the foot

Surely it is hypocritical of an institution at the forefront of climate science and renewable energy technology to at the same time be investing up to $1 billion every year in the fossil fuel industry at the root of global warming?

Many of Fossil Free MIT’s members – and so many more throughout the MIT community – have devoted much of their adult lives to developing the science, technology and policy needed to mitigate climate change. From undergrads building energy-efficient cars in their spare time, to grad students engineering lower cost, higher performance solar cells, to postdocs and professors building global climate models that can forecast our future, we’re here at MIT to try to make a difference.

But while we’re fighting the climate change beast with one hand, MIT is feeding it with the other – investing a large and unknown portion of its $11 billion endowment1 in fossil fuel companies – undermining the efforts of its students and faculty. Every year, the fossil fuel industry spends $700 billion2 developing new fossil fuels that we can’t afford to burn, and $500 million3 lobbying in Washington against climate change legislation. Perhaps most criminal and destructive is the well-documented4,5 incorporated society of syndicated sceptics established by the fossil fuel industry and its beneficiaries, which purposefully orchestrates anti-science disinformation campaigns designed to confuse the public and prevent meaningful action against climate change.

MIT finances this operation, and at the same time, pays its students and professors to find the fixes to climate change! Only by divesting from fossil fuels can MIT retain its position as a moral authority in the world. Only by divesting from fossil fuels can we affirm MIT’s reputation as a leader in climate science and energy technology. Only by divesting from fossil fuels will the technologies built at MIT ever make a difference.

  1. MIT News Office, MIT releases endowment figures for 2013 (September 2013). [link] []
  2. Carbon Tracker Initiative, Unburnable Carbon 2013: Wasted capital and stranded assets (2013). [link] []
  3. Burners-Lee, M., Clark, D. The Burning Question, 2013. [link] []
  4. Oreskes, N., Conway, E. Merchants of Doubt (May 2010). [link] []
  5. Oreskes, N., Conway, E. M. Defeating the merchants of doubt. Nature 465, 686 (2010). [link] []
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