To Protest Fossil Fuels, Environmentalist Resigns 1 Day Before End of Term


Kat Taylor — the wife of billionaire environmentalist and political activist Tom Steyer — protested Harvard University’s fossil fuel investments by resigning from the Harvard Board of Overseers one day before her six-year term was due to expire.

Taylor had enough of Harvard University’s fossil fuel investments. She stepped down from her position as a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers on Tuesday. In her resignation letter, Taylor decried the school’s “failure” to “adopt ethical commitments,” according to the Harvard Crimson.

“We should and would be horrified to find out that Harvard investments are actually funding some of the pernicious activities against which our standout academic leadership rails,” her letter stated.

“But that is where we still sit, vulnerable to the inevitable association with our investment targets that profiting from them demands.”

Harvard has a total endowment of $37.1 billion, with some investments in fossil fuels. The prestigious university has long faced pressure to divest.

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Over 100 Harvard faculty penned an open letter in 2014 urging University President Drew Faust to do so. In 2015, 20 students stormed a university building and demanded divestment. In March 2017, members of the activist organization Divest Harvard made similar demands while blockading University Hall.

In March of this year, Taylor wrote an op-ed for The Crimson, the university’s newspaper, calling for fossil fuel divestments.

“I call upon the next University president, and the Harvard Corporation members who take his counsel, to adopt ethical investment principles,” she wrote.

“At a minimum, Harvard should direct the Harvard Management Company to divest from fossils fuels to prevent the end of life as we know it through cascading climate-driven disasters.”

Taylor’s op-ed marked the first time a member of Harvard’s governance boards has called for divestment.

Despite this pressure, Faust has bucked calls for a complete divestment from fossil fuels, saying that there are better ways to battle climate change.

However, the head of Harvard Management Company’s natural resources portfolio, Colin Butterfield, announced in April 2017 that the school would be “pausing” some fossil fuel investments.

Taylor — who graduated from Harvard in 1980 — did not find her alma mater’s moves good enough, officially resigning in protest. However, the timing of her resignation is somewhat perplexing.

She began a six-year term on the Harvard Board of Overseers in 2012. Her resignation came one day before her term was due to expire.

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“My only regret in resigning early is missing the chance to bid you a proper goodbye,” Taylor wrote to her colleagues on the Board a day before she was expected to leave anyway. “I fervently hope that all of you will demand accountable financial transactions on behalf of us all as I have tried to do.”

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