Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Climate campaigners in Madison, Wisconsin demonstrate in support of fossil fuel divestment on April 4, 2014. (Photo: depthandtime/flickr/cc)

Climate activists stage a divestment rally on April 4, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo: depthandtime/flickr/cc)

'A Big, Big Deal': Climate Activists Applaud Rutgers University's Fossil Fuel Divestment Plan

"This powerful decision," said Naomi Klein, "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."

Brett Wilkins

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:

  • Ceasing all new investments in fossil fuels;
  • Divesting from passive index funds with fossil fuel investments within one year and reinvesting in more environmentally friendly versions of those indices;
  • Actively seeking new investment opportunities in renewable energy and energy efficiency categories that deliver competitive rates of return; and
  • Exiting all currently held private fossil fuel investments within 10 years.

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. 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·


UNESCO Members Adopt First Global AI Ethics Agreement 'To Benefit Humanity'

"We're at a critical juncture in history," said Ethics in Tech founder Vahid Razavi. "We need as humans to come together and decide what is the best course of action to take with these technologies before they surpass us in their abilities."

Brett Wilkins ·


Progressive US Lawmakers Mark Black Friday With Calls to Pass the PRO Act

"The right to organize, fight for better working conditions, and fair pay must always be protected."

Jessica Corbett ·


'We Are Fighting Back': Global Black Friday Strikes and Protests Seek to #MakeAmazonPay

"We are workers and activists divided by geography and our role in the global economy but united in our commitment to Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes, and for its impact on the planet."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo