Al Gore Endorses Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement

I wanted to share some exciting news with you. Tonight, Al Gore spoke at Harvard and endorsed the fossil fuel divestment movement. I’ve included the most relevant quotes below and bolded the most important parts. There were many people in our group who were central in reaching Gore and asking him to publicly talk about divestment. This is an exciting moment! I was speechless as I listened to Gore talk about the work that we’ve done at Divest Harvard. It was an inspiring moment that I will remember for many years to come. I have admired Gore for a long time, and I was blown away to be in the same room as him and listen to him commend the work that I have devoted myself to for the past six months.

This movement is changing the world and the way people see and understand climate change. Enjoy these quotes! And below I’ve embedded two videos that I took of Gore actually saying this.

“Students here at Harvard have raised the question of divestment.  I cannot fail to address the issue, even at the risk of sounding impolite and undiplomatic.  I served on the Harvard Board of Overseers. [Harvard students] recruited me to be a part of their slate.  I said who else have you got?  They said, Desmond Tutu. I said, I’m in.  And, it was a really interesting experience.

And as others had had in an earlier era, the experience that we had ultimately resulted in change.  An earlier group had taken on the tobacco issue, and…President Bok’s wife was the one who said: “you’ve got to get rid of that.” And Harvard did.  And on apartheid, Harvard did.  Having served on the Board during the time when Harvard wrestled with this question, I have some advice to the students.  First of all, if I were a student I would support what you’re doing.  But if I were a Board member I would do what I did when we took up the apartheid issue.  This is an opportunity for learning and the raising of awareness, for the discussion of sustainable capitalism….

The students here at Harvard who are seized by the moral imperative to grab hold of this climate crisis and find ways to raise awareness inspire me, and the combination of your passion and the inspiring example of commitment to academic excellence and passionate advocacy that mark the life of Paul Epstein is what’s going to save our future.”

In answer to a question about what sutdents can do:

“It is a privilege to have a challenge that is so obviously worth the greatest efforts you can pour into it…. it can bring a sense of joy in the doing.  And young people who find this passion and commit themselves to it have smiles on their faces. They know what they’re doing is what they should be doing.

In response to the question: “What is your advice to the people of funds who manage non-profits if those funds currently include fossil fuels?”

“I would say that I’m not comfortable with it.  When we started Generation Investment Management, we had initially an investment in BP, and Lord Brown was then in charge and had a great sustainability commitment, and it didn’t work out, and we got rid of it. We don’t own any such companies, and we’ve done well in spite of that.  It is a difficult questions for non-profits, universities, and you will find environmental groups that are passionately committed to doing the right thing, but when it comes to practicing…[there is an] obligation to manage for the long term.

There are new and better ways to distinguish between sustainable and unsustainable companies. In the case of these carbon fuel companies, I do believe that certainly in the long run they are completely unsustainable…. that absurd assumption that we can burn all these fuels, those companies will collapse. I don’t know when but that is my belief… I do believe [that they will collapse] over that long term period over which endowments are supposed to be managed.”

Learn more about Divest Harvard at www.divestharvard.com.

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