Gore Backs Harvard Divestment Campaign

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In December, we reported on students on campuses across the country who have been working to get their universities to drop their investments in fossil fuels. Harvard’s divestment campaign got a big boost on Wednesday as Al Gore—the former vice-president, climate crusader, and Harvard alum—backed their efforts.

“Students here at Harvard have raised the question of divestment,” Gore said in a speech on campus. “I cannot fail to address the issue, even at the risk of sounding impolite and undiplomatic. First of all, if I were a student, I would support what you’re doing. But if I were a board member I would do what I did when we took up the apartheid issue. This is an opportunity for learning and the raising of awareness, for the discussion of sustainable capitalism.”

“The students here at Harvard who are seized by the moral imperative to grab hold of this climate crisis and find ways to raise awareness inspire me,” Gore said.

A Harvard spokesman previously told Mother Jones that the university “has a strong presumption against divestment” in fossil fuels. But Gore’s remarks offered 350.org and the students behind Divest Harvard some high-profile encouragement.

“It was incredible to hear someone like Gore applaud the work that young people like us across the country are doing to solve our generation’s most pressing problem,” said Hannah Borowsky, a member of Divest Harvard. “Five months ago, no one knew what divestment was. Now students are organizing for it on over 250 campuses, and we’ve gained the nation’s attention. It’s really starting to feel like this movement is going to change the world.”


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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.