BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a five-year plan Wednesday to combat climate change but said it won’t divest its $12.4 billion endowment from fossil fuels, despite pressure from students and a campus committee.
Senior officials at the elite science and engineering research school crafted the “action plan” after a yearlong effort to gauge campus opinions on climate change. The university hosted a debate on the topic and assembled a committee that ultimately urged MIT to divest from the most damaging fossil fuel industries, including coal and tar sand companies.
The MIT report warns of “catastrophic outcomes” linked to current energy use, but said the school can help by maintaining ties with fossil fuel companies.
“We choose not to divest from fossil fuel companies because we think engagement stands the greatest chance of success,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif said in a conference call with reporters. “MIT seeks to convene key players with the goal of helping drive significant progress for the world. There is a great deal to do and we are eager to get started.”
At MIT and campuses across the United States, students have pushed universities to pull their investments in fossil fuels. They argue that coal and oil companies are driving climate change, with the support of heavy college investments. Leaders at MIT took up the issue after student group Fossil Free MIT called for divestment last year.
The student group did not immediately respond Wednesday to an email seeking comment.