Oil & Gas
Members of NYU Community Send the University a Message: No Donations Without Divestment
Pledge to withhold donations was launched Saturday and is rapidly gaining support
New York NYU Divest, a coalition of students, faculty, and alumni calling on NYU to divest from fossil fuels, released a pledge on Saturday to potential donors entitled “No Divestment, No Donations.” The pledge was released over NYU’s Alumni Weekend as alumni are the largest bloc of University donors. Signatories pledge to withhold all donations to New York University until the Board of Trustees divests its $3.4 billion endowment from the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies. The pledge has already been signed by over 115 members of the NYU community.
Costanza Maio, an NYU alum and a member of NYU Divest, stated, “By signing this pledge, donors are telling NYU that we cannot in good conscience donate to the university so long as those donations can be used to support the fossil fuel industry. NYU last year disclosed that they have $139 million in fossil fuel investments, which comprises 4% of their endowment. This means that if I give $100 to their endowment, $4 of that will go towards practices that are destroying our planet such as lobbying against climate legislation and financing further extraction of fossil fuels. That’s unacceptable.”
The international fossil fuel divestment movement began after research demonstrated that 80% of existing fossil fuel reserves must not be burned if a safe climate is to be preserved. Advocates of divestment argue that it is immoral to profit from the fossil fuel industry’s unsustainable business model, which features attempts to prevent political action, slow the switch to renewables, and maintain their commitment to using existing reserves. Proponents say that divestment stigmatizes fossil fuel companies and encourages world leaders to take action, an increasingly important initiative with U.N. climate negotiations happening in December.
This pledge was released in anticipation of an upcoming meeting between NYU Divest and NYU’s Board of Trustees. The group was promised this meeting in 2014 with the condition that the University Senate first pass a responsible investment resolution. The Senate passed this resolution in April.
Priya Mulgaonkar, another alumni member of NYU Divest, commented, “When NYU Divest meets with the board, we want them to understand that donors take this issue very seriously and want to see the university use its endowment in a responsible way. We realize that a sanction on the university is a strong action, but the urgency of climate change absolutely warrants it.”