An open letter on fossil fuel divestment

A group of MIT alumni advocates that MIT divest its endowment of fossil fuel holdings

Dear President Reif:

Human-caused climate change is perhaps the most urgent challenge of our time. As one of the world’s premier scientific institutions, MIT needs to take a leadership role in confronting the realities of this fundamental scientific and moral issue. Toward that end, we as MIT alumni are advocating that the MIT Corporation divest its endowment of fossil fuel holdings. In parallel, our group, Alumni for Divestment at MIT (AD-MIT), is reaching out to fellow graduates encouraging them to contribute in MIT’s name to the newly established Multi-School Divestment Fund. Our education at MIT and the Institute’s core values have helped shape our belief that divestment:

—is consistent with the widely accepted science of climate change, to which MIT has made significant contributions;

—acknowledges climate change as a moral and ethical issue, with which supporting further extraction of fossil fuels is incompatible; and

—expresses a deep concern for all future generations, by taking seriously the widespread consensus about the extreme consequences of further warming.

We applaud the Climate Change Conversation you initiated to help foster intelligent discourse about this pressing dilemma. At the same time, we believe MIT should be taking more tangible actions to address climate change not only by tapping the immense talent and innovative spirit within the alumni community, but also by divesting the fossil fuel elements of the Corporation’s portfolio. Mounting evidence shows that the moral consequences of global warming far outweigh any possible financial benefits of investing in fossil fuels, while multiple reports demonstrate that a broad range of socially and environmentally responsible investments do not negatively impact returns.

MIT alumni are the face of the Institute to the outside world, and a significant number hold highly visible positions of scientific, economic, and political authority. Already 450 alumni have signed the petition urging fossil fuel divestment of the endowment. A growing number are contributing to the Multi-School Divestment Fund, the proceeds of which will go directly to MIT once its endowment is divested from fossil fuels. By divesting now, MIT would validate its position as a world leader, being the first institution with an endowment over $1 billion to do so.

If you have any questions about our approach to divestment, please contact us at admitffree@gmail.com. We look forward to meeting with you and members of the Climate Change Conversation Committee at your earliest convenience to explore creative ways to include alumni voices in MIT’s deliberations.

Thank you,

Warren Atkinson, ’70

Dave Damm-Luhr, PhD ’79

Gerald Gras, ’69

Bradford Johnson, MS ’04

Rajesh Kasturirangan, PhD ’04

Chris Nidel, MS ’95

Christina PioCosta-Lahue, MCP ’09

Becky Romatoski, ’06

Britta Voss, PhD ’14

Anonymous about 3 years ago

Thank you for the wonderful letter. I support your cause and want to sign; how can I do so?

Britta Voss about 3 years ago

You can sign the divestment petition here: http://www.fossilfreemit.org/the-petition/ Thanks!