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University of California divests from fossil fuels to curb climate crisis

The University of California (UC) in the United States may have opted to prioritise the health of planet Earth ahead financial gains following its decision to divest from fossil fuels.

University of California San-Diego
University of California, San Diego

This emerged as majority of the members of the institution’s supreme academic authority voted in favour of a “Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies”, which essentially entailed divestment of the university’s endowment portfolio of all investments in the 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies with the largest carbon reserves.

The Ivory Tower, which operates campuses in cities such as Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbra and Santa Cruz in the state of California, holds a portfolio of investments totaling approximately $120 billion, which includes retirement, endowment, and cash assets. It is managed by the Office of the Chief Investment Officer of the Regents.

UC owns shares in companies on the Carbon Underground 200 list. It’s holdings of securities in oil and gas drilling and refining firms is said to be approximately three percent of the university’s public equity holdings.

But in a correspondent dated Wednesday, July 10, 2019, Robert May, Chair of the Academic Council, informed Janet Napolitano, President of UC, that the Faculty of the Academic Senate had voted in favour of the Memorial on Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies following the balloting that was concluded on July 2.

“Of the 3,232 Senate members who voted, 77% voted in favour of the Memorial,” wrote May.

“After a month of voting the results are in and we have won a big victory. This is a huge day for those of us who have been working toward it for six years!” said a source close to the Senate in a reaction.

Amid contrary views, majority of the institution’s senior officials opined that ensuring that the planet does not undergo catastrophic climate change requires that fossil fuels be phased out in the near future. They argued that, thus, being co-owners of corporations devoted to producing fossil fuels “is both morally fraught and financially imprudent”.

Officials further emphasised that fossil fuel stocks are “a bad investment”, and that sustainable energy is “economically and technically viable”.

“A thousand years from now, our generation will be remembered only for what it did, or did not do, to address the climate crisis. An effective response will require, more than anything, a shared political will. Most fossil fuels must stay in the ground by refusing to maintain ownership in the companies that are removing them,” the officials insisted.

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