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Climate organizations hold strike on Newark campus

<p>The Central Jersey Climate Coalition (CJCC) called upon the University to break ties with fossil fuel companies and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.</p>

The Central Jersey Climate Coalition (CJCC) called upon the University to break ties with fossil fuel companies and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The North Jersey Climate Coalition led a climate strike at Rutgers—Newark on Dec. 6 to demand clean air, water and energy from New Jersey officials. It also called for the University to divest from fossil fuel companies and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The Central Jersey Climate Coalition (CJCC), which is based in New Brunswick, also attended the strike. Leah Hunt, a School of Arts and Sciences senior involved with CJCC, attended the protest. 

She said a main goal of the two organizations was to protest the proposed NJ Transit gas power plant in Kearny, which is funded by a federal grant to help the state recover after Hurricane Sandy. 

“Their idea with this power plant is to be able to allow NJ Transit to operate 40 to 50% of its services during a power blackout,” Hunt said. “But this is so ironic because fossil fuels are what’s contributing to our climate crisis and the greater and greater frequency of these hurricanes and superstorms.”

The Daily Targum previously reported that Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) wants to have New Jersey run on 50% clean energy in New Jersey by 2030 and 100% clean energy by 2050. Hunt said the NJ Transit power plant does not align with Murphy’s goals of combating climate change.

“We’re pushing back against this plan and calling for solar power for NJ Transit and be able to use this enormous grant to use this opportunity, for Murphy especially, to put his money where his mouth is in terms of environmental justice,” Hunt said.

The climate coalitions are also calling for the University to come up with a climate action plan as soon as possible to lower emissions as well as establish an Office of Sustainability by the end of 2020, Hunt said. University President Robert L. Barchi previously announced a climate task force to research potential steps the University can take to help climate change, which is set to report its findings in spring 2020. 

The CJCC has also called for the Board of Governors to divest from hedge funds that contribute to environmental injustice, including various fossil fuel and defense industries, according to a document shared with the Targum from the Endowment Justice Collective, a branch of the CJCC. 

Hunt said the University should enact climate policies that benefit Rutgers students not just in New Brunswick, but Camden and Newark as well. She said Newark still has lead-contaminated water, which represents the need for environmental justice. 

Hunt also said the CJCC thinks the University’s hiring of Greg Schiano as football head coach shows it is not using funding wisely and that students should take priority. The CJCC is also against Schiano’s access to a private jet.

“We acknowledge that the use of private jets is a huge producer of emissions and we just don’t see that as necessary for Rutgers in terms of recruitment,” Hunt said.

The Targum reported that the CJCC also held a large climate strike in New Brunswick in September, but Hunt said progress has been slow. The University has not yet met any of the coalition's demands, and the CJCC plans on speaking at an upcoming Board of Governors meeting to further outline the demands. 

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