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University of California to Keep Fossil Fuel Investments

University of CaliforniaThe University of California announced a set of climate change initiatives this week to make the system more sustainable, but stopped short of divesting fossil fuel investments from its $91 billion portfolio.

The recommendation not to divest was one of the findings of the president’s Task Force on Sustainable Investing.

While the task force unanimously agreed that climate change is a serious issue that must be addressed, the majority of members were opposed to UC immediately divesting its fossil fuel holdings, which account for about $10 billion in assets. The findings are scheduled for discussion at a meeting today of the UC Board of Regents’ Committee on Investments.

Other recommendations of the Task Force include the following:

  • Allocate $1 billion over five years for direct investments in solutions to climate change.
  • Adhere to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment.
  • Establish and implement a framework for sustainable investment with the goal of completion by the end of the current fiscal year.
  • Integrate environmental, social and governance factors as a core component of portfolio optimization and risk management. Evaluate all strategies for achieving ESG goals as soon as practical, including whether to use divestment.

In addition, the university has signed agreements to secure substantial solar energy for the university for the next 25 years. The agreements include the use of two solar fields to be constructed in Fresno County. The fields will enable the university to put 206,000 MWh per year of solar energy back into California’s electrical grid.

The University of California-Irvine was named a 2014 winner of the Climate Leadership Awards by the EPA’s Center for Corporate Climate Leadership, in collaboration with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the Association of Climate Change Officers and The Climate Registry.

In addition, four branches of the University of California system were named in Princeton University’s 2014 Green Honor Roll: University of California-Irvine, University of California-Los Angeles, University of California-Santa Barbara, and University of California-Santa Cruz.

Earlier this year, Stanford University said it will not make direct investments in coal mining companies in a move that the Board of Trustees say reflects the availability of alternate energy sources with lower greenhouse gas emissions.

And last year Harvard University, which has the world’s largest college endowment valued at $32.7 billion, decided to continue its investment in fossil fuels, despite heavy pressure from environmental activists.

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