A Letter to the Students of NYU Sunrise
August 18, 2023
Dear Sunrise NYU leadership,
This correspondence is a response to our meeting on February 28th and your follow-up email on March 1st. The Board's Investment Committee greatly appreciates the time and effort you put in preparing for our meeting as well as your productive engagement with Jason Pina, Cecil Scheib and the Committee over the past year. Our meeting provided a significant opportunity for us to understand each other better. You shared a more nuanced understanding of the complexities around making specific changes to our current portfolio on a timeline and in a manner outlined during the initial portion of our discussion.
New York University and Sunrise NYU both recognize climate change's threat to our community and the world, and we recognize and appreciate that the combustion of fossil fuels is a significant contributor to climate change.
We believe that NYU must continue to play a role in environmental sustainability and we have taken tangible and impactful actions to reduce our carbon footprint and to address climate change. Since 2007, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions intensity from building energy use 30% - the equivalent of planting all of Manhattan, and all of Brooklyn, in trees, and have look-forward goals of a net 50% reduction by 2025 and climate neutrality by 2040. In addition, given our understanding that agriculture is one quarter of global emissions, we are focused on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions from our food purchases by 25% by 2030. Together, buildings, energy, and food represent over half of humanity's contribution to global climate change, and NYU is doing its part to address this significant issue.
We understand that Sunrise NYU is seeking additional assurances from NYU. To that end, we affirm that:
- New York University currently has no direct ownership of public securities of any company whose primary business is the exploration or extraction of fossil fuels, including all forms of coal, oil, and natural gas.
- 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.
- New York University will continue to seek out investments in comingled funds that would reduce the endowment's indirect exposure to companies whose primary business is the exploration or extraction of fossil fuels, while maintaining the financial health of the endowment.
We applaud the success of Sunrise NYU efforts over its history. Not only have the current student leaders effectively researched and communicated an essential set of environmental sustainability values, but they also have hosted programs and professional advocates with peers and university leadership. We encourage you to continue to work with Chief Sustainability Officer Cecil Scheib and Vice President Dr. Jason Pina as you continue to fulfill your organization's mission.
William R. Berkley
Chair, NYU Board of Trustees