NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The Central Jersey Climate Coalition, an alliance of more than 30 student and community organizations representing thousands of people, plan to walk out of their classrooms and workplaces on Friday at 2:30 p.m to demand that Congressman Frank Pallone and the Rutgers University Board of Governors take action to address climate concerns.
The event is part of the Global Climate Strike, a worldwide day of action to end fossil fuels.
The strike will be a coordinated action that will begin with two different rallies, according to a statement released by the CJCC.
The rally at Rutgers University will commence at Voorhees Mall and will consist of Rutgers students and faculty, along with other members of the New Brunswick community.
Another rally will be starting in Highland Park and will include local high school students, as well as other community members.
Both of these rallies will then march to downtown New Brunswick, meeting at Pallone's office in New Brunswick at 67/69 Church St. at about 4 p.m.
The coalition is demanding that Pallone, as the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, endorse a Green New Deal, hold fair hearings on a Green New Deal, return all campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry and impose a moratorium on all future donations from fossil fuel companies.
“Congressman Pallone holds immense power to take national-level action on climate,” said James Boyle, communications coordinator for CJCC. “His current climate plan significantly delays meaningful emissions reductions, bringing us all closer to the brink of climate catastrophe. Congressman Pallone must endorse the kind of transformational legislative agenda that adequately addresses the climate crisis before it’s too late.”
According to a recent NJ.com article, Pallone's ccommittee is working on legislation that would require zero net carbon emissions by 2050. That would mean emissions from power plants, cars, and manufacturing would have to be offset through capturing carbon, expanding forests or other means.
Pallone said such legislation is often defeated by a Republican-led Senate or President Trump.
In addition to the demands of Pallone, CJCC is also demanding that Rutgers develop a climate action plan, commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, establish an Office of Sustainability by the end of 2020, and commit to ethical divestment of the university’s endowment, including fossil fuels, by 2024.
“We’re asking Rutgers to recognize its position as a public land grant university in the Big 10, serving a highly diverse population in a state that is already experiencing the effects of climate change,” said Emily Cheng, Outreach Coordinator for CJCC. “Rutgers calls itself revolutionary, and yet it has barely moved the needle on climate action. Any university that isn’t committed to climate leadership isn’t committed to the future of their students.”
A university spokesperson said that President Robert Barchi commends members of the community for highlighting this issue and supports developing a plan to reach carbon neutrality at Rutgers University by 2030.
"Rutgers is proud to be the home of world-renowned experts on climate sciences and climate policy, and leads by its actions," according to a statement released by the organization. "All new construction at Rutgers is built to LEED standards. Rutgers’ 3,400 solar panels on Livingston Campus are capable of providing energy to the entire campus. Making sustainable choices in purchasing and operations is a priority for the University."
According to the statement, "President Barchi looks forward to the active participation of the University’s climate change experts in formulating a plan that contributes to the extensive, ongoing work on sustainability already happening across the University."
A spokesperson for Pallone said he would issue a statement later this week.