Students, Rutgers AAUP-AFT prepare for Friday's Global Climate Strike
The Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers' (AAUP-AFT) executive council has unanimously voted on a resolution endorsing the Central Jersey Climate Coalition (CJCC) and the Global Climate Strike on Friday, Sept. 20, said David Hughes, treasurer of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT and a professor in the Department of Anthropology.
The CJCC, with the aid of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT and local organizations, has put together a movement that aims to implement the Green New Deal and achieve the 45% reduction in carbon emissions the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommended to stop the catastrophic effects of climate change, said James Boyle, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and the communications director of the CJCC.
Both the CJCC and the Rutgers AAUP-AFT resolution endorse the Green New Deal, and are calling for the University to create a plan for net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, managed by an office of sustainability, which will audit Rutgers' energy use and find areas where the University can cut back emissions.
While Rutgers does not have an office of sustainability per se, it does have a University Committee for Sustainability, which was founded by University President Robert L. Barchi in 2014, as well as Director of Sustainability and Energy Michael Kornitas, according to the committee's website.
"The University Sustainability Committee’s mission is to organize and articulate sustainable practices and principles in education and research, and in our University operations, with the goal of reducing our impact on the environment as we fulfill our expanding mission as a comprehensive public research university. The committee will have broad representation from faculty, staff and students from all of our campuses and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS)," according to a statement on the committee's website.
Rutgers also teaches more than 350 courses that touch on at least 1 of the 17 goals set by the United Nations, and many new buildings on campus are built Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver-certified, according to the website.
"Solar panels, geothermal systems, rain gardens, water refill stations and other sustainability features abound throughout the campus," according to the website.
Renewable sources of energy, such as solar panels and co-generational plants on Busch campus and RBHS, currently make up approximately 30% of the University's energy footprint, The Daily Targum reported in November 2018.
The Targum also reported earlier this month that the coalition was demanding the University divest from fossil fuels in its endowment, something Chief Investment Officer Jason MacDonald said Rutgers would consider.
“You have to keep in mind that we are a faculty union that represents scholars and scientists of climate change,” Hughes said in an interview with the Targum shortly after the union’s resolution passed. “So we take the expertise of our members very, very seriously, so our members who have done the research on climate change, has persuaded anybody that is listening, that we have to decarbonize, we have to move away from fossil fuels very, very quickly.”
Along with the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20, students, faculty and New Brunswick community members will march from Voorhees Hall on the College Avenue campus to the downtown New Brunswick office of Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Boyle said.
Pallone sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and could do more to mitigate the climate crisis, Boyle said.
“(Pallone) has said earlier this year that a ban on fossil fuels would be the wrong way to go, despite the fact that these companies have been spending millions of dollars in our political process to sew disinformation and doubt,” he said.
In addition to the CJCC’s participation in the global protest for a carbon emission-free planet on Friday, Boyle said the coalition will hold a number of events the following week, known internationally as Climate Action Week.
First, the coalition plans on holding an event with New Labor, a local organization that helps immigrants and lower-class people find temp jobs, said John Milligan, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
“So we are doing an event with them, to talk with the workers about how they as immigrants and lower-class people, the effects of climate change are exacerbated for them,” Milligan said in an interview with the Targum.
Also during Climate Action Week, the CJCC will hold a screening of the documentary “This Changes Everything,” based on Rutgers visiting professor and journalist Naomi Klein's book by the same name. The event will also hold a Q&A with Klein’s husband and director of the documentary Avi Lewis, Boyle said.
A panel on divestment and resistance will be held on Thursday, Sept. 26, as well, he said.
In terms of how the University will respond to the coalition, Hughes said a similar coalition in 2015 will serve as a guide. Rutgers created an official endowment divestment application in response to the action taken by the students and faculty at the time.
“This is a turning point. We are in a moment of crisis and we can no longer afford to wait at all, and all hands must come on deck in order to maintain the lives of people on Earth,” Hughes said.
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