Good things are happening! The country’s largest private university just divested from fossil fuels — and we scored a behind-the-scenes account of the victory from one of the organizers responsible. And that’s not all: California’s legislature passed historic climate legislation and defended Medicare, plus the taxman is coming for the country’s negligent millionaires.
NYU Divests From Fossil Fuels
Following years of pressure from student activists, New York University (NYU) has announced that it will divest its financial holdings from fossil fuels. As the country’s largest private university, with an endowment totaling over $5 billion, it’s a meaningful win for climate activists.
The move is another win for the country’s burgeoning youth climate movement, which also made waves in New York this week when organizers with Climate Defiance staged a major protest outside of Citibank, the world’s second-largest fossil fuel funder.
New York University will join Brown, Harvard, Cornell, Princeton, George Washington, and dozens of other colleges and universities in divesting from fossil fuels. The Guardian reported that the decision, which bars “direct investments in any company whose primary business is the exploration or extraction of fossil fuels,” will apply to the top 200 coal, oil, and gas companies.
As politicians and fossil fuel companies delay meaningful climate action, climate activists have increasingly looked towards endowments, pensions, and other large institutional funds to fight the climate crisis. But changing institutional investments requires a nuanced strategy, which Alicia Colomer, now a senior at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, learned when she helped found the university’s chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate group, in 2020.
According to Colomer, after an earlier effort at the school failed in 2016, NYU’s recent divestment campaign borrowed a tactic from a successful 2020 strategy used at George Washington University, which she calls an “inside and outside game.”