NYU appeases pro-Green New Deal student group with fossil fuel divestments

The NYU Board of Trustees sent a letter to a student activist organization, Sunrise NYU, indicating it would fully divest in order to help combat climate change.

According to its website, Sunrise NYU is 'a community of powerful young people fighting for a Green New Deal' and blames the fossil fuel industry for 'destroying our futures.'

In what appears to satisfy the longstanding demands of its campus’ climate change activists, New York University will cut off its investments in the fossil fuel industry.

On Aug. 18, the NYU Board of Trustees issued a letter to the student-led Sunrise NYU announcing that the school will no longer be investing in “any company whose primary business is the exploration or extraction of fossil fuels, including all forms of coal, oil, and natural gas.”

“New York University and Sunrise NYU both recognize climate change’s threat to our community and the world, and we recognize and appreciate that the combustion of fossil fuels is a significant contributor to climate change,” Chair William Berkley wrote in the letter. “We believe that NYU must continue to play a role in environmental sustainability and we have taken tangible and impactful actions to reduce our carbon footprint and to address climate change.”

The letter was addressed specifically to the student leadership of Sunrise NYU, which has been working to push the school to fully divest from fossil fuels for years, according to the group’s website. Sunrise NYU also self-identifies as a “community of powerful young people fighting for a Green New Deal.”

[RELATED: Columbia University joins Ivy League opposition to fossil fuels]

In response to the board of trustees’ announcement, Sunrise NYU called the move a “huge win for climate justice” after the university had “dragged its feet” for a long time on divesting. The group now claims that NYU has moved toward the “right side of history” to end its support for an industry that has been “destroying our futures.”

Berkley also praised the student organization for displaying an “essential set of environmental sustainability values.”

In 2014, Politico reported that NYU had $139 million of its $3.4 billion endowment invested in fossil fuels. The endowment has now grown to $5.3 billion, as of August 2022.

Campus Reform has been covering the trend of universities cutting ties with fossil fuels due to climate change activism for years.

[RELATED: American University caves to environmentalist students’ demands]

In April, Campus Reform reported that students at Harvard University urged law professor Jody Freeman to quit her job at a major Arkansas oil company. A former Obama White House official, Freeman is the director and founder of the Environmental and Energy Law Program at Harvard, and formerly worked on the board of ConocoPhillips.

In July, Campus Reform also reported that Seattle University became Washington’s first college to officially withdraw all of its fossil fuel investments. This decision also made the school the first Jesuit university in the nation to do so.

Campus Reform has contacted NYU and Sunrise NYU for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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