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MIT Research VP: No Divestiture; MIT Initiates 5-year Climate Change Plan

MIT announces 5-year plan to combat climate change, which does not include plans to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies
courtesy: Christopher Harting/Above Summit

MIT has taken a bold step on the issue of climate change, that critics say ignores an appeal by thousands of students and faculty to divest, first and foremost, from fossil fuel companies.

The Institutes' approach  on how to best reduce the risk of climate change rests squarely on the shoulders of MIT President Rafael Reif.

In a letter to the MIT community, Reif announced his decision to do something different and innovative, (see letter below) following a student movement in February 2014 called, “Fossil Free MIT,” in which students and faculty demanded MIT divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies.

A letter to the MIT community from MIT President Rafael Reif, on re-doubling the Institute's efforts to confront climate change.
courtesy: MIT

MIT’s Vice President for Research Maria Zuber tells WGBH Morning Edition host Bob Seay although MIT made a decision not to divest, the movement was the genesis for the Institute’s Plan For Action on Climate Change.

MIT VP for Research Maria Zuber discusses the Institute's five-year plan to confront climate change WGBH Morning Edition host Bob Seay.
courtesy: Marilyn Schairer

On October 21, 2015  MIT, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific institutions, revealed its five-year plan to confront climate change.  (See timeline below)

MIT released its five-year timeline on how it expects to tackle the issue of climate change. The 2014 fossil-free MIT protest to divest was the genesis for the plan.
courtesy: MIT

The Institute developed a multi-faceted plan of action aimed at fighting climate change by spending millions of dollars for low-carbon research, advocating for carbon pricing, and calling for help from its 130-thousand alumni.

While the plan stops short of divestiture from the fossil fuel industry, Zuber tells WGBH Morning Edition host Bob Seay, it was decided, “the one thing MIT could most effectively do to address climate change is research.” She says, “MIT is a top institution that is humble enough to know it cannot do it alone. “

MIT released its five-year Plan For Action On Climate Change on October 21, 2015, which set off a protest by students requesting the Institute instead divest from fossil fuel companies.
courtesy: MIT

“Climate change is a complex problem, its a global problem and requires all the smart people in academic research institutions, governments that make policy and industry that has most of the talent to bring about a global solution,” according to Zuber.

Maria Zuber, the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and Planetary Science, MIT's VP For Research visited WGBH's Morning Edition.
courtesy: Donna Coveney

The plan called for research of an optimal mix of energy sources, establish policy and economic incentives, and clear technological goals to achieve success.

In making the announcement not to divest, President Reif called upon all members of the MIT community to take action and learn how the institute plans to execute the plan.

Members of the Fossil Free MIT have taken their fight to social media to outline the group's objections to MIT's climate change plan and decision not to divest.
courtesy: Fossil Free MIT

Members of the Fossil Free MIT movement dissatisfied with Reif's plan of action,  staged a sit-in outside the President's office, to protest his decision not to divest. According to the organization's Facebook page, the group says in part, "MIT's divestment decision, part of its Plan for Action on Climate change, flies in the face of over 3,500 petition signatures from MIT community members, the recommendations of the MIT President's own committee to divest from coal, tar sands, and climate denying corporations, a resolution from Cambridge City Council and separate open letters from MIT student groups, faculty and alumni."

To listen to the entire extended interview with MIT VP Zuber and WGBH’s Bob Seay click on the audio file above.

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