Who Gets a Spot at the Table: Divest Harvard at the IOP Forum

Today, November 16th, the IOP Forum hosted an event about the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. Divest Harvard held a presence inside and outside of the event. We were there to confront the panelists, including President Faust, with Harvard’s choice not to divest from fossil fuels and the decision to exclude voices of those most affected by climate change from a discussion about the “global community.”

The UN climate talks historically give the most power to rich countries and major corporations that profit from the creation of global climate change, allowing them to escape the responsibility they have to invest in a just transition to renewable energy. In its selection of who would represent the global community, Harvard too created this power imbalance. The panel was titled “Bringing the Global Community to the Table: Paris 2015 UN Climate Change Conference,” and yet all but one of the panelists were journalists or academics from the United States. The global community represented by this panel excluded the voices of the communities most impacted by climate change and the voices of our own community in Boston. This event is a further reflection of Harvard’s exclusive thinking, which has brushed aside the widespread call for divestment, leaving the majority of its own institution’s community out of the conversation about solutions to climate change.

Harvard has avoided acknowledging its own role as a financial contributor to the changing climate. It has used the advancement of research as an excuse to increase its financial returns through unjust and destructive investments in the fossil fuel industry. It has failed to truly empower the “global community” to discuss solutions and hold big climate opportunists accountable. We staged our action today to confront Harvard administrators with the following questions: How does Harvard decide who gets to sit at their table? And, whose solutions are Harvard’s decision makers choosing to champion when we talk about international solutions to climate change?