The University of California has sold its direct holdings in coal and tar-sands-focused oil companies; these holdings are worth about two hundred million dollars. This decision follows divestment decisions made by other universities, such as Stanford University.
UC Board of Regents spokesperson Dianne Klein notes that divestment was a part of a “sustainable investing framework adopted several months ago.” Additionally, as the coal industry continues to decline prolonged investment is not viewed as strategically wise.
In recent years students have been pressuring higher education’s investment offices to prioritize various issues when making financial decisions. Students who have been active in campaigning for UC divestment are viewing the decision as a victory; as Ravi Oved, Student Regent, notes: “By no means is this the end to the movement. We’re just getting started.”
Institutions of higher education can continue to lead and inspire when it comes to clean energy not only by divesting from fossil fuels, but also by investing in companies that promote sustainability. As the UC system, one of the nation’s largest public universities, makes smart, sustainable choices, we hope that other institutions of higher education will follow.
The University of California has sold off direct holdings, worth nearly $200 million, in coal and tar-sands-focused oil companies — a decision fueled by environmental and economic pressures.
UC Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Bachher announced the decision at the Wednesday UC Board of Regents’ Committee on Investments meeting. The decision is part of an investment strategy that considers “environmental sustainability, social responsibility and prudent governance risks,” said UC spokesperson Dianne Klein in an email.
These holdings are a “small share” of the university’s investment assets of nearly $100 billion, Klein said. The university invests approximately $10 billion in the energy industry.
Klein added that the university will also consider carbon prices in its assessment of electric utility investment opportunities.
According to an investment status report released last week, the university’s total assets are $98.2 billion — up from $90.6 billion last year — illustrating the endowment’s significant gains since 2013, according to an analysis by the Center for Investigative Reporting. The analysis found that from 2004-13, the university saw the worst investment returns of any of the wealthiest colleges in the country.