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Climate campaigners on Tuesday welcomed the announcement that Rutgers University will become the latest U.S. academic institution to commit to divesting from fossil fuels in a bid to combat the climate crisis. 

“Divestment is the necessary first step in an economic transition rooted in racial and environmental justice.”
—Naomi Klein,
Rutgers University

Rutgers Today reports the move by New Jersey’s largest state university follows a recommendation by the school’s Ad Hoc Committee on Divestment and approval by its board of governors and board of trustees. The committee—which is composed of students, faculty, and staff—was acting on a request from the student-led Endowment Justice Collective.

Rutgers’ divestment plan consists of:

According to Rutgers Today, around 5% of the university’s $1.6 billion endowment is currently invested in fossil fuels. 

“This decision aligns with Rutgers’ mission to advance public health and social justice,” said university president Jonathan Holloway. “While the university has taken steps recently to limit investments in this area, approving a policy of divestment from fossil fuels is a significant expression of the values of our institution and our broader community.”

Board of governors chair Mark Angelson said that “we are doing our part to ensure a sustainable environment for future generations of students, while continuing their access to an affordable education.”

Zunaira Wasim, a junior at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and one of four students on the committee, told Rutgers Today that “divesting from fossil fuels aligns with our scarlet values and with the university leadership on important issues that students rightfully expect from Rutgers.”

“Students like me have expressed our desires to see the university rapidly decrease its carbon footprint and will be proud to see Rutgers taking this step,” Wasim added. 

Author Naomi Klein, Rutgers’ Gloria Steinem endowed chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies, said in a statement that “this powerful decision by Rutgers University sends an unequivocal market message that the era of fossil fuels is finally coming to an end and that our collective future rests with clean, renewable energy.”

“Divestment is the necessary first step in an economic transition rooted in racial and environmental justice,” added Klein, “a process that must bring good green jobs, as well as safe, renewable energy, to the most impoverished and polluted communities in our state.”

Climate campaigners around the country applauded news of Rutgers’ divestment. Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, called the move “a big, big deal.”

“After years of hard work from students, faculty, and alumni, the administration is now acknowledging that it makes neither financial nor moral sense to try and profit off the destruction of the climate system,” said McKibben, according to Insider NJ. “One of America’s foremost educational institutions is making it clear that it stands with the future.”

Rutgers joins the growing list of colleges and universities in the U.S. and around the world to choose divestment as a method of fighting the worsening climate emergency. Last May, the University of California became the nation’s largest university system to sell off all its fossil fuel investments. 

Citations

[1] Rutgers to Divest From Fossil Fuels | Rutgers University ➤ https://www.rutgers.edu/news/rutgers-divest-fossil-fuels[2] Divestment Committee | Rutgers University ➤ https://www.rutgers.edu/strategy/ad-hoc-divestment-committee[3] Rutgers University (@RutgersU) | Twitter ➤ https://twitter.com/RutgersU?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw[4] Rutgers to Divest From Fossil Fuels | Rutgers University ➤ https://t.co/PESh4Ssphg[5] Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard 🔶 on Twitter: "The @RutgersU Board of Governors & Board of Trustees today announced the university's divestment from fossil fuels! Big congratulations to the students, faculty, and alumni who made this happen. ✊👏 https://t.co/PESh4Ssphg" ➤ https://twitter.com/DivestHarvard/status/1369395779970949120?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw[6] Rutgers to drop fossil fuel investments in battle against climate change - nj.com ➤ https://www.nj.com/news/2021/03/rutgers-to-drop-fossil-fuel-investments-in-battle-against-climate-change.html[7] #Rutgers hashtag on Twitter ➤ https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rutgers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw[8] Alan Robock ☮ 🇺🇦 on Twitter: "“Years in the Making”: @RutgersU AAUP-AFT Union @ruaaup Celebrates Fossil Fuel Divestment. I helped submit petitions to them more than 7 years ago, but finally they did it. Students and union working together. @NaomiAKlein @billmckibben https://t.co/BInHgeO4XR" ➤ https://t.co/n3OLERhXsm[9] Naomi Klein on Twitter: "I love teaching at #Rutgers University and now I'm extra proud to be part of this amazing community: after years of student and faculty activism, Rutgers if finally divesting from fossil fuels!… https://t.co/0EC1wA4Oys" ➤ https://twitter.com/NaomiAKlein/status/1369360581858369540?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw[10] “Years in the Making”: Rutgers Union Celebrates Fossil Fuel Divestment - Insider NJ ➤ https://www.insidernj.com/press-release/years-making-rutgers-union-celebrates-fossil-fuel-divestment/[11] Universities divesting from fossil fuels have made history, but the fight isn't over | Zamzam Ibrahim | The Guardian ➤ https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/jan/13/universities-divesting-from-fossil-fuels-have-made-history-but-the-fight-isnt-over[12] Putting 'Its Money Where Its Brains Are,' Cambridge Announces Historic Fossil Fuel Divestment of £3.5 Billion Endowment ➤ https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/10/01/putting-its-money-where-its-brains-are-cambridge-announces-historic-fossil-fuel[13] UC’s investment portfolios fossil free; clean energy investments top $1 billion | University of California ➤ https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/uc-s-investment-portfolios-fossil-free-clean-energy-investments-top-1-billion