Students, faculty, alumni, and members of the Harvard community came together April 12th —17th to speak out for climate justice. Organised by 350.org and Divest Harvard, Harvard Heat Week was a week-long series of protests meant to provoke one of the world's premier colleges into divesting from fossil fuels.
South Pole Group, having conducted climate impact analyses on behalf of many institutional investors, including Sweden's national pension funds AP4 and AP6, looked at Harvard's public equity holdings, or around 3% of the whole endowment, and extrapolated for the remaining 97%. Published as campaigners were undertaking the week of action, the report estimated greenhouse gas emissions from the university's investments totalling 11 million tonnes of CO2, roughly the equivalent to those of the country of Jamaica.
In the United States, and increasingly in the UK, the divestment movement has gained significant traction, with pension funds and endowments from top universities coming under pressure to withdraw their investments from fossil fuels. Only last week, Stanford University announced they will divest from coal companies. Back in the UK activists celebrate the decision by Soas, University of London to divest from fossil fuels. The university is the first in the capital to make such a commitment.
A growing number of asset owners are starting to incorporate climate risk as an important parameter when managing their investment portfolios: less than two weeks ago, the Church of England announced it had sold £12m in two of the most polluting fossil fuels, tar sands oil and thermal coal. The business case for climate savvy investments is also being picked up by key financial players: recent months have seen the likes of USD 851M heavy Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Guardian Media Group withdraw funds from fossil fuel investments and encouraging othersto follow suit.