Rutgers University is going green and no, not just because St. Patrick’s Day is coming. The university said this week it will start to divest itself from fossil fuels.
The decision came following approval by the university’s Board of Governors and Board of Trustees.
The decision follows the recommendation of an ad hoc committee of faculty, students and staff formed to consider a fossil fuel divestment request from a student group, the Endowment Justice Collective.
“This decision aligns with Rutgers’ mission to advance public health and social justice,” said 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 commended the committee’s review and the inclusion of key community members in its deliberations. “We are doing our part to ensure a sustainable environment for future generations of students, while continuing their access to an affordable education.”
To divest from fossil fuel investments, the university will:
- Cease all new investments in fossil fuels;
- Divest from passive index funds with fossil fuel investments within one year and reinvest in more environmentally friendly versions of those indices. Rutgers also will actively seek new investment opportunities in renewable energy and energy efficiency categories that deliver competitive rates of return;
- Exit all currently held private fossil fuel investments within 10 years.
Currently, approximately 5 percent of the university’s $1.6 billon endowment consists of fossil fuel investments. Sixty percent of these investments are in private funds, and the remainder are in public equity or fixed income accounts.
Fossil fuel investments are investments in any company or fund whose primary business is the exploration or extraction of fossil fuels, including coal, oil and natural gas, or whose primary business supports this sector with infrastructure and other services, the committee noted.
Rutgers student groups and others have voiced their support for divestment from fossil fuels, and many of the report’s recommendations stemmed from their participation.
“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,” said Zunaira Wasim, a junior at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, one of four students who served on the committee.