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MIT group issues report advocating targeted divestment of coal and tar sands companies

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, have issued a report recommending that the school divest its $12.4 billion endowment of certain fossil-fuel companies, said MIT spokeswoman Kimberly Allen.

Specifically, the report, issued Monday, advocates for targeted divestment of coal and tar sands companies.

“Coal and tar sands are among the most carbon‑intensive and environmentally hazardous fossil fuels, and their continued large‑scale use is incompatible with economically mitigating climate change,” according to the report.

The report added that, in contrast to blanket divestment, “targeted divestment would likely carry less risk of lost engagement opportunities with companies.”

Members of the MIT Climate Change Conversation Committee, which compiled the report, agreed that MIT should exercise more ethical oversight of its investments and do so in a transparent and community backed manner.

The committee was formed in September by Maria Zuber, MIT vice president of research, to launch an open, campuswide conversation about how MIT can confront issues of climate change.

Ms. Zuber is inviting comments on the report from the MIT community over the next 30 days.

Ms. Zuber, Professor Susan Solomon, Provost Martin Schmidt and MIT Energy Initiative Director Robert Armstrong will review the report, as well as any additional input from members of the MIT community, before presenting their recommendations to MIT President L. Rafael Reif this summer. Mr. Reif will then announce a plan for communitywide MIT action on climate change in the fall.

Seth Alexander, president of MIT Investment Management Co., could not be reached for comment by press time.

The full report is available on MIT's website.