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Rutgers to divest from fossil fuel industry

Rutgers to divest from fossil fuel industry
© istock

Rutgers University is set to divest from fossil fuels after heavy lobbying from students and the union representing faculty and staff.

David Hughes, the treasurer and former president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, said in a statement that the vote by the school’s board of governors and board of trustees follows more than seven years of activism.

In addition to the years-long divestment campaign, about 700 students, faculty and residents of New Brunswick, N.J., took to the streets as part of the 2019 Global Climate Strike. Ninety percent of students voted to support divestment in a referendum in fall 2020. That December, the union’s executive council passed a resolution that called on the school to “immediately begin selling all its holdings in firms that extract, produce, refine, sell, store, or transport oil, gas, or coal.”

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Hughes said in a statement that the decision “will give greater strength to the divestment movement at exactly the moment when the new Biden administration is beginning to take up climate change.”

“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,” Naomi Klein, the university’s Gloria Steinem endowed chair in media, culture and feminist studies, said in a statement.

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

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Although numerous universities have made similar divestments, author Bill McKibben, co-founder of climate advocacy group 350.org, said in a statement that the university’s divestment was "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,” he said. “One of America’s foremost educational institutions is making it clear that it stands with the future.”

“Having greened its portfolio, Rutgers is now in a position to green its campuses,” Hughes said in the statement. “The university needs to go the full mile now and become a campus driven by renewable energy while supplying affordable, resilient, carbon-free power to vulnerable communities.”