Rutgers University will begin to divest from fossil fuels following a vote of approval by its Board of Governors and Board of Trustees, as well as a years-long push for fossil fuel divestment by the student group Endowment Justice Collective.
About 5 percent of Rutgers’s $1.6 billion endowment is invested in fossil fuels, which the university defines as “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,” according to a press release.
Rutgers will start by ceasing new fossil fuel investments and within one year will divest from passive index funds with fossil fuel investments. The university plans to reinvest in environmentally friendly versions of those indexes and to seek new investment opportunities in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
“This decision aligns with Rutgers’ mission to advance public health and social justice,” Jonathan Holloway, president of the university, said in a statement. “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.”
Within 10 years, the university will exit its private fossil fuel investments, which typically take longer to liquidate than other investment types. The investment office will report on divestment progress annually.
Members of Rutgers's faculty union celebrated the news with students Tuesday.
“This is seven and a half years in the making,” David Hughes, former president and current treasurer of the union, said in a press release. “It will give greater strength to the divestment movement at exactly the moment when the new Biden administration is beginning to take up climate change.”
Rutgers’s announcement comes shortly after the University of Southern California promised in February to divest from fossil fuels.