Urge the University of California to divest from fossil fuels
To: Marie N. Berggren, Chief Investment Officer, Vice President-Investments, and Acting Treasurer
The earth is warming and we need to act fast to stop the devastating trend. The average temperature in the U.S. has increased by about 1.5 degrees Farenheit since 1895, with more than 80% of the increase occurring since 1980 . The extraction and burning of fossil fuels are clearly and directly associated with greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. While claiming to be responsible stewards of the environment, the University of California system continues to invest in fossil fuels through the General Endowment Pool. All investments in fossil fuels contribute to fundamentally unsustainable practices, both in terms of climate change and toxic pollution, which threaten the social and environmental wellbeing of all societies.
Leadership in sustainability requires that an institution enact policies beyond what other similar institutions have put in place. In the past, by divesting from Sudan, South Africa, and tobacco, the University of California endorsed the view that in holding investments in an industry, the institution is partially accountable for the impacts of the decisions and actions of said industry. We urge the Regents of the University of California to take the same stance with climate change and act as leaders by divesting from fossil fuels.
The University of California currently has investments in the fossil fuels industry, including coal mining and burning, petroleum extraction, and natural gas extraction. The Associated Students of California call upon the Regents of the University of California, in its commitment to leadership in sustainability, to divest from fossil fuels by taking the following actions regarding the General Endowment Pool (GEP):
Instruct asset managers to stop any new investment in fossil fuel companies; andTake appropriate steps to ensure that, within 5 years, none of its directly held or commingled assets include holdings in fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds as found on the Carbon Tracker list; andRelease quarterly updates, both detailing progress made towards full divestment and providing information on the holdings of the endowment pool and of index funds within the GEP.
The University of California has affirmed its commitment to “responsible stewardship of resources and to demonstrating leadership in sustainable business practices,” and to having a “net zero impact on the Earth’s climate“. We urge the Regents to abide by this statement and divest from fossil fuels.
And on May 14, 2013, we–the students, and faculty and staff, of the University of California–are going to the Regents to ask them to divest. With the presence of every UC, the multitude of signatures on our petition, and the kind of support and media this movement has gotten so far, they won’t be able to ignore us!
 ”Sustainable Practices Policy”: http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/coordrev/policy/sustainable-practices-policy.pdf
Update #2Posted by Emily Williams (Cause Leader) on Mar 13
Wow! We met our original goal of 5000 people signing the petition! The movement is growing and going strong, and starting to spread like wildfire. Our students are organized and mobilized, our faculty is beginning to reach out to each campus to form a faculty-UC-wide coalition, staff is jumping on board; we have a HUGE teach-in planned for April 22, were featured on NPR’s On Point show on 3/11/13, and have a Regents meeting to look forward to in May!
So what about a new goal of 10,000?! Let’s show the Regents how much support there is for them to divest. After all, their mission statement calls upon the UC’s to provide “long-term societal benefits.” And in the long run, fossil fuels aren’t a part of that equation.
Update #1Thank you all for signing the petition! Thanks to your help, when we go to the Regents this March, we will be able to show them the immense support behind this movement. Much has happened since the petition took off. Three UC’s—UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley, and UC San Diego—passed resolutions through their student senates urging the Regents to divest from fossil fuels. As I write this, the other UC’s are working on their own resolutions, to be presented to the student senates in the near future. Thanks to these resolutions, when we go to the Regents, we will have the student voice of the UCs supporting us.
We are also starting to work with the faculty on our campuses, and thus far, there are 53 faculty members who have signed on to sponsor a resolution through the faculty senate at UCSB. As the movement continues to grow, we hope to get all faculty and staff from each of the campuses on board.
Yet what is really exciting and inspirational about this movement is that this past weekend, February 22-24, there was a national fossil fuel divestment convergence held at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, called Power Up! (http://studentsdivest.org/). This was the first-ever fossil fuel divestment convergence, and California sent about 15 representatives to it! The convergence was truly a weekend of learning and inspiration; we heard from those frontline communities whose water has been poisoned from fracking and mountain-top-removal-related toxins, as well as from the First Nations in Canada (the indigenous peoples) whose land was taken away from them so that the government could develop tar sands. But we came away from that weekend with not only inspiring stories, but also with a national network and movement.
The movement is going stronger than ever, and it is partly thanks to you for signing on and helping spread the word. So if you have the time, please invite your friends, families, and colleagues to sign this petition and help us persuade the Regents to divest!
- Students say: big oil + university funding = bad (sunsetdaily.wordpress.com)
- Maine college sells its fossil fuel investments (sfgate.com)
- Ventura Democrats Pass the First Official Resolution Calling for Divestment from Fossil Fuels (motherboard.vice.com)
- It’s the beginning of the second semester, and over at Fossil Free we’re kicking it off with style. (sunsetdaily.wordpress.com)
- Three Reasons to Support Divestment From Fossil Fuels (stnfrdstatic.com)
- Sunny Educations: Universities in Northern California (college.answers.com)
- Top Colleges: University of California Rankings (college.answers.com)
- Dozens participate in Campus Center divestment rally (tuftsdaily.com)
- For the First Time, Elected Officials Are Calling for Divestment from Fossil Fuels (motherboard.vice.com)
- Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign Gains Steam In New York: Bill McKibben At NYU (planetsave.com)