Harvard Hall on the campus of Harvard. (Wikimedia Commons)
A member of Harvard's Board of Overseers wants the world's most famous university to drop investments in fossil fuels. Kat Taylor is the first member of that board to openly embrace the environmental cause.
Taylor, co-founder of a community development bank in Oakland, California, and the wife of philanthropist Tom Steyer, is publicly calling for Harvard to divest fossil fuels from its $37 billion endowment to address climate change.
"Harvard has led in so many ways on combating the existential threat of our time, but I recognize that if we don't avert climate disaster we won't have the opportunity to work on other things of dire need in our society," Taylor said.
Taylor points to Harvard's “dismal” financial returns as one reason to divest from fossil fuels.
"The real reason to do it is a moral one,” she said “Harvard has a very high public purpose and it should align all of its activities with that high purpose."
The Board of Overseers doesn't manage Harvard's endowment, but it does serve as the eyes and ears of alumni.
For years, student organizers and alumni have demanded Harvard sell its oil, gas and coal stocks.
Harvard President Drew Faust has repeatedly said that while climate change is a serious threat, the endowment should not be used as a political or social tool and divestment is not warranted or wise.