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New York University disinvest in fossil fuels, CUNY New Deal should propose similar objectives

Tdorante10 | Wikimedia Commons

New York University will no longer use its $5 billion endowment to invest in fossil fuels.

William R. Berkley, chair of NYU’s board of trustees, formally addressed a student climate group in August, stating that the university commits to moving toward a green future, according to The Guardian.

“New York University commits to avoid any direct investments in any company whose primary business is the exploration or extraction of fossil fuels, including all forms of coal, oil, and natural gas, and not to renew or seek out any dedicated private funds whose primary aim is to invest in the exploration or extraction of fossil fuels,” Berkley said.

The university disclosed that it had invested 4% of its endowment, or $139 million, in 2014. However, NYU also established that it has no direct involvement with the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies and doesn’t plan on future partnerships.

NYU has also been working toward reducing greenhouse gas and food emissions by 2040. The university’s decision complies with the New York Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which seeks to cut 40% of greenhouse emissions in the state by 2030 and 85% by 2050.

NYU’s commitment comes from many student organizations fighting for NYU to divest fossil fuels since 2004.

Sunrise Movement NYU started their activist work in 2012, pushing their university to cease its involvement with fossil fuels, and they achieved their goal nearly a decade later.

“This is a huge win for the climate and for the generations of NYU students that helped make this happen!” their Instagram post said.

The work is not done yet as many student activists are also asking for the removal of Larry Fink, a significant investor in fossil fuels, and Maria Bartiromo, who minimized the impacts fossil fuels had on the environment, from its board of trustees.

The movement away from using fossil fuels is significant because of the environmental harm it causes. Burning fossil fuels leads to the production of greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to the effects of climate change.

According to National Geographic, fossil fuels are a nonrenewable resource that cannot be relied on after use, since they take millions of years to form within the Earth.

NYU’s act toward a greener future can impact how students feel about CUNY.

Abby Coyne, a music management student at Baruch College, wants to see CUNY move toward a greener future. “A greener future is necessary because we need to ensure a healthy future for our generation and future generations. So it’s essential for CUNY to move away from using fossil fuels,” she said.

“CUNY should be taking part in improving the environment and helping guarantee that we live in a healthy and cleaner environment,” Coyne added.

The CUNY New Deal demands similar proposals for their universities. CUNY advocates, state legislators and PSC introduced new legislation in Feb. 2021 that would “save the university from further state budget cuts, but reverse decades of underfunding.”

It will seek to increase the number of faculty, staff and mental health counselors. Additionally, it will require that federal, state and city funds pay for some tuition.

By improving the full-time faculty-to-students ratio, students receive a better ability to connect with their professors, where they have more time to ask questions in class.

According to the NY State Senate, the bill to enact the New Deal for CUNY is currently in the committee senate. The bill states, “The New Deal for CUNY reimagines CUNY as the vital urban university it must be if it is to serve the people of New York. It enhances CUNY’s historic role as a leader in educational justice and economic transformation.”

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Adriana Maria Lopez Tavares, Opinions Editor
Adriana Maria Lopez Tavares is the Opinions Editor for The Ticker.

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