Submission: An Open Letter to the Chief Investment Officer of the UC Regents

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Dear Jagdeep Singh Bachher,

We write to you representing University of California students and faculty from across the state as part of the climate justice movement.

In the March 13 investments subcommittee meeting, you committed to divesting up to $500 million from fossil fuel commodities and real assets, stating that “in the long term…fossil fuels…[are] a financial risk we do not want to take.”

This couldn’t have happened without the pressure you felt from the mass sit-ins, walk outs, lobbying and rallies over the past five years of the Fossil Free UC campaign. While this victory is cause for celebration, it is not enough. It is critical that you continue to listen to our voices and strive to have the UC divest fully from fossil fuels in order to facilitate a just transition from an economy that relies completely on fossil fuels to one that works for the people.

This announcement marks a turning point. For the first time, the UC publicly admitted what we knew to be true all along — investments in fossil fuels are an unacceptable financial risk. Further, they are a survival risk to our future, our climate and our communities, as well as communities around the world.

Your divestment announcement follows shortly after New York City pledged to divest its $5 billion holdings in fossil fuel companies and launched a lawsuit for climate change related damages against five of the most polluting fossil fuel companies in January. Last year, the UC announced it would divest from companies constructing the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, and two years earlier the UC divested from coal companies and companies operating in the Alberta tar sands. Just last week, the Secretary General of the United Nations warned the world that climate change poses an existential and urgent threat to human civilization.

Right now, millions of people are threatened by fossil fuel pollution and the impacts of climate change. Indigenous communities, low-income communities and communities of color are hit first and hardest, despite often being the least responsible for fossil fuel pollution. Young people, our generation, have the most to lose. We’re inspired by this win but we need it to go further because time is running out. We need firm commitments to full divestment and to an ambitious transition period now.

Right now is the time for the UC to take bold action, to stand on the right side of history and to fully divest from fossil fuels. Right now is the time for the UC to be a leader in the sustainability and social justice values it claims to uphold.

Today, we, Fossil Free UC, demand that you, Mr. Bachher, put out a public statement addressing the moral reason for divestment from fossil fuel commodities and real assets. We demand that the statement include a clear timeline for this divestment.

Finally, we demand that you make the decision to fully divest from fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, Fossil Free UC will continue to hold you accountable to the commitment you made to shift money out of the hands of the world’s most polluting fossil fuel companies. If you do not meet our demands, we will continue to mobilize as students and faculty until you do what’s right.

Climate change is happening now and will continue to get worse. As CIO of the UC Board of Regents, you have the power to act to make a change that will impact many people today as well as future generations. We, students of the UC, demand that you use that power wisely and divest fully from fossil fuels now.

We look forward to working with you in the fight for climate justice.

Sincerely,

Fossil Free UC