UC Davis logo

Sustainable 2nd Century

Sustainable 2nd Century

Join our networks

Blog

Archive for September, 2014

UC Regents: Listen to Your Community. Be True Climate Leaders.

September 10th, 2014 @ 1:11 pm by Camille Kirk

The Regents of the University of California are being asked to consider divestment from fossil fuels at the upcoming September meeting. In advance of that meeting, the Sustainable 2nd Century blog is hosting two guest posts this week about the fossil fuel divestment effort. This post is an excerpt of a longer essay about the Fossil Free UC movement written by UC Davis student Emili Abdel-Ghany, a Community and Regional Development senior, California Student Sustainability Coalition Field Organizer for the Fossil Freedom Solidarity Organizing Program and former Senior Field Organizer for the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign.

Fossil Free UC rally at the May 2014 University of California Regents meeting in Sacramento, California. Photo credit: Becca Rast.

Fossil Free UC rally at the May 2014 University of California Regents meeting in Sacramento, California. Photo credit: Becca Rast.

Over the past three years I have seen communities rise up together across UC Davis, the entire UC, and reaching out into California and beyond, even reaching the front page of the Wall Street Journal’s Money and Investing segment. The campaign to divest our communities from the fossil fuel industry is one that resonates with folks from every part of society. I have had the opportunity to help shape the campaign on the local (Davis) level and statewide, coordinating multiple actions at the Sacramento UC Regents meetings and others. I have personally dedicated a majority of my undergraduate career to this campaign and to the education of the broader campus and California community (UC Davis and beyond). Faith communities, those fighting for racial or gender equity, scientific communities, campus departments, educators and countless students have thanked the campaign leaders for enlightening them about what UC investments are doing. I have seen how galvanizing the issue of unsustainable investments can be for students, faculty, staff, and the community. Almost every time I’ve told someone about this campaign their reaction is the same: They did not know that the UC invests donations in fossil fuel industries which constitutes a lack of transparency from the UC, and they do not want the UC to be investing in or even using fossil fuels. Further, they want to have a say in the process given that UC is a public institution of research and higher education, and are strongly opposed to the direction the UC is going in its relationship to the industry fueling climate change. Although the UC has just made significant strides to advance solar, it is a moral contradiction to invest in the companies driving the climate crisis while investing in those attempting to halt it.

Our movement for climate justice is reaching a tipping point this September, and here in California we must act to hold our flagship public institution accountable for financing climate chaos.  UC Regents on the Committee on Investments will be voting on fossil fuel divestment at their meeting September 17th meeting at the UCSF Mission Bay campus. We need as many voices from community, students, faculty, administration present. The Chief Investment Officer (CIO) recently altered his original recommendation to the Committee on Investments (COI), which would have advocated for a loose ESG (Environmental and Social Governance) framework for investing and explicitly stated recommending a “No” vote on divestment. In my opinion, this recommendation would completely disregard and even misconstrue the meaning of the work of students and the community, since it does not take immediate action to halt all new investments in the top 200 fossil fuel companies, drop the current holdings, and begin to reinvest in our communities. However, because of student and community pressure (by countless phone calls to the CIO) the Task Force recommended that the decision on Fossil Fuel Divestment be assigned to the COI, ending the Task Force. This minor concession is thanks to the people power generated by Fossil Free UC.

Any recommendation that the CIO makes to the Task Force will be taken very seriously by the Committee on Investments and voted on at their Friday September 12th meeting happening via teleconference in Oakland, LA, and Santa Barbara. If you would like to be involved in the momentum around this please email CSSC Field Organizer Jake Soiffer or Madeline Oliver. Most Regents will likely defend his position. We need to keep up the public pressure on decision makers. The Regents will likely still vote yes on whatever the CIO recommends to the COI. It will be incredibly important to have as many people at this meeting supporting our campaign as possible. If you are faculty we have a template letter that we would love for you sign onto/adapt and send you may contact CSSC Campaign Director, Emily Williams for this letter. Otherwise (for non-faculty), you can send your input to the UC Regents via email  regentsoffice@ucop.edu, mail: Office of the Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Regents 1111 Franklin St.,12th floor Oakland, CA 94607 with attention to the Committee on Investments. The regent who chairs this committee is Paul Wachter, it would be good to address concerns to him since the decision is in the hands of the COI as of now. If you will be sending a letter after Friday please email it to CSSC Field Organizer Alyssa Lee and she will circulate it appropriately.

The UC has to lead. We have to act now. The Regents have the opportunity of a lifetime to listen to the outcry of the people and divest NOW!

For more information follow:
www.fossilfreeuc.org
www.facebook.com/FossilFreeUC
www.sustainabilitycoalition.org
www.twitter.com/FossilFreeUC
To be added to list serves email Alyssa Lee.

Read Emili’s essay, from which this post was excerpted, to learn more about what has compelled her to become active in divestment efforts.

  • Logo: Digg
  • Logo: Google
  • Logo: Mixx
  • Logo: Newstrust
  • Logo: Newsvine
  • Logo: Reddit
  • Logo: Stumbleupon
  • Logo: Windows Live
  • Logo: Yahoo Bookmarks

It’s Time to Divest from Fossil Fuels

September 8th, 2014 @ 4:19 pm by Camille Kirk

The Regents of the University of California are being asked to consider divestment from fossil fuels at the upcoming September meeting. In advance of that meeting, the Sustainable 2nd Century blog is hosting two guest posts this week about the fossil fuel divestment effort. This post is written by Stephen M. Wheeler, Associate Professor, Department of Human Ecology.

Fossil fuel companies play a major role in promoting carbon-intensive societies. Should UC be investing in them? Photo and caption by Stephen M. Wheeler.

Photo of Valero refinery in Benicia, California. Fossil fuel companies play a major role in promoting carbon-intensive societies. Should UC be investing in them? Photo and caption by Stephen M. Wheeler.

At universities across the country the subject of fossil fuel divestment is in the news. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff are pressing trustees to drop schools’ investments in corporations threatening our future through global warming emissions. Already last spring Stanford gained a lead on the University of California by agreeing not to invest in coal stocks. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for UC to regain the moral lead by divesting from fossil fuels across the board?

Global warming is the largest sustainability challenge of our time. UC plays a positive role through research into climate change and renewable energy technologies, and through efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from UC campuses. However, an issue of this sort calls for moral leadership as well. California as a state has already adopted strong policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By divesting from fossil fuel stocks UC can take a stand as well, and further build its reputation as a worldwide leader on sustainability topics.

As a student I was active in the late-1970s and 1980s movement to get colleges to divest from corporations doing business in South Africa, at a time when South Africa rigidly separated blacks and whites and Nelson Mandela was in prison. The University of California took a lead in countering racism back then by divesting some $3 billion in South-African-related stocks. Mandela later credited UC’s action with significantly helping to abolish apartheid.

Please do whatever you can—as a student, faculty member, staff person, or alumni—to encourage the UC Regents to vote for divestiture during 2014-15. Regents will first take up the issue on September 17, but additional consideration is likely throughout the year.

Information about how to contact the Regents is at http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/contact/index.html. The best form of contact may be a written comment sent by email on “Divestment from fossil fuels” prior to any Regents meeting at which this topic is on the agenda. You can review agendas at http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/meetings/index.html.

Let’s see our University on the cutting edge of social change once more.

 

  • Logo: Digg
  • Logo: Google
  • Logo: Mixx
  • Logo: Newstrust
  • Logo: Newsvine
  • Logo: Reddit
  • Logo: Stumbleupon
  • Logo: Windows Live
  • Logo: Yahoo Bookmarks