Sunday, April 26, 2015

This is a college bowl game that really counts

Stanford 1, Harvard 0

Forget fossil-fuel divestment. Harvard could be greener—and save money—by doing what the California university already has.

By Daniel Gross, Slate

Stanford and Harvard have long competed to be the most elite American university. Harvard may lead in longevity (379 years to 130 years) and the number of presidents it’s graduated (8 to 1). But Stanford is kicking Harvard’s butt in one vital area: energy efficiency and emissions reductions.

Harvard students are fighting a so-far unsuccessful battle to get the university to sell off its giant endowment’s holdings in fossil-fuel companies. I have a generally low opinion of these efforts, for two principal reasons. First, as Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust correctly noted, it is absurd to divest stocks of companies such as ExxonMobil and Shell “at the same time that, as individuals and as a community, we are extensively relying on those companies’ products and services for so much of what we do every day.” Second, divestment is a passive-aggressive act. It would be far more effective for large, wealthy institutions to do something affirmative with their wealth and market power.

For example, Harvard could strike a bigger blow against fossil-fuel companies by installing superefficient heating and cooling equipment and then securing supplies of emissions-free energy to run them. That would hamper demand for coal and natural gas, empower upstart solar companies, and slash emissions massively. It could also save a ton of money.

(Continued here.)

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