Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why University of California Is Dumping Fossil Fuel Stocks

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why University of California Is Dumping Fossil Fuel Stocks

Article excerpt

The University of California system was the latest organization to sell off $200 million worth of fossil fuel stocks from its investment fund, it announced yesterday.

UC's chief investment officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher made the announcement at a meeting of the UC regents' investment committee yesterday. He explained that a "slowing global demand, an increasingly unfavorable regulatory environment, and a high threat of substitution pose insurmountable challenges to coal mining companies," encouraged the committee's decision to divest from coal and oil sand companies, The Los Angeles Times reported.

But relentless public pressure also played a role. Students, faculty, and alumni across the university's 10 campuses have been pressuring administration for several years to divest from the fossil fuel holdings in its $98 billion investment portfolio.

Their efforts have been buoyed by a national campaign led by activist group 350.org, which has persuaded 390 institutions worldwide - from Stanford University to The Guardian Media Group to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund - to commit to selling their investments in oil, coal, and natural gas drilling companies.

Burning fossil fuels to produce energy releases the vast majority of the heat-trapping gases scientists say are responsible for raising average global temperatures.

Divestment is a protest tool that's been used for decades. The point is to shame companies and governments into social and environmental reforms in areas like land mines, sweatshop labor, and racial injustice, instead of relying on government policies. In the 1980s institutions across the United States sold their stocks in companies working in South Africa to protest the country's system of racial segregation, called apartheid.

Though the tactic is credited with helping to end apartheid, experts disagree on whether divestment is an effective tool. …

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