Today we filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General alleging that Harvard’s investments in fossil fuels violate laws governing the management of charitable funds. Signed by a wide group of students, scientists, political leaders, and community organizations — including Cornel West, James Hansen, Boston City Counilor Michelle Wu, 350.org, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Friends of the Earth — the complaint demonstrates that Harvard’s estimated $838 million in oil, gas, and coal assets are improper investments for a non-profit institution like Harvard.
The complaint, which asks the Attorney General to investigate the harms done by fossil fuel investments and to order the university’s governing corporation to cease promoting harms to at-risk communities, public health, and the planet, is part of a broader effort to hold powerful institutions accountable for their role in the climate crisis. In December 2020, CDP led a similar effort regarding Boston College’s investments. In 2014, as law students, CDP’s staff attorneys filed the first-ever fossil fuel divestment lawsuit. There’s plenty more work to be done: if you’re engaged in divestment activism and need legal advice, please contact us.
You can read a press release from Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard regarding the complaint here.