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September 20, 2014

University of California Not to Divest from Fossil Fuels


The University of California voted on Friday to maintain its investments in fossil fuels, frustrating a student-led effort to divest its portfolio in oil, natural gas and coal.

UC is among the major college endowments have been reluctant to shake up their portfolios by pulling out of fossil fuels after Stanford University, one of the most prestigious and wealthiest in America, took that step in May.

Jagdeep Bachher, UC Regent's Chief Investment Officer, said in a presentation that UC's fossil fuel holdings amounts to $10 billion of the $91 billion in the college's investment portfolio.

Addressing calls to divest from fossil fuels, Bachher said: "It is clear to me...that these actions will have financial consequences on all of us and on our portfolios."

In a statement, the UC Board of Regents said it intended to invest $1 billion in a plan addressing solutions for climate change. Diminishing investments in fossil fuels was an option, but divestment was not.

Advocates for divesture from fossil-fuel sector shares in university endowment funds have had limited successes, mostly with a handful of liberal arts colleges.

Stanford announced that it would drop coal company holdings from its $18.7 billion endowment fund. Harvard University, which has the largest endowment of any U.S. university at $32 billion, has rejected calls from students, faculty and outside groups to divest from fossil fuel stocks.

This year, Harvard adopted a set of environmental and social investment principles backed by the United Nations that encourage signatories to urge more transparency by companies about their carbon emissions.

(Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by David Gregorio)

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