July 12, 2022
Dear Harvard, It’s Time to Reject Fossil Fuel Money
By Lisa Herforth-Hebbert
The university’s recently announced Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability will need to ban oil and gas companies from funding its research.
By Ilana Cohen
In June, Harvard announced that it would establish the Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability. The institute aims to connect and bolster climate-change initiatives across the university, in large part by supporting related research. With this institute’s creation comes a new and crucial opportunity for Harvard to demonstrate climate leadership. Amid today’s unprecedented climate emergency and a global energy crisis, Harvard can lead the way in protecting the integrity of the research we urgently need to usher in a just, renewable energy economy and ensure the academic freedom of researchers by implementing a ban on fossil fuel industry funding for climate research. Doing so would provide a vital safeguard for our planet, communities, and futures.
Right now, fossil fuel funding for climate research is spurring outrage and debate at universities nationwide—and for good reason—as more than 730 academics in an open letter have made clear. At Stanford, students, faculty, and alumni are calling on the university’s new Doerr School of Sustainability to refuse industry funding, after the administration stated that it would both take money from and work with the oil and gas giants driving climate breakdown. As Stanford doctoral student Celina Scott-Buechler and recent alumnus Ada Statler put it, this policy makes the school “a gift to fossil fuel companies.” Their point cannot be overstated. By welcoming these companies, Stanford provides them crucial access to the production of knowledge and thought that will shape our understanding of the solutions urgently needed to address the climate crisis. It grossly dismisses these companies’ dismal records on sustainability and environmental justice and instead helps legitimate their deadly business models.