Students Led the Way to Divestment

By Fossil Free UC

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After six years of student organizing, meetings, sit-ins, calls, letters, emails, direct action, political education on climate justice, academic senate votes on all 10 UC campuses and nonstop efforts from fossil free’ers, the UC has committed to divesting from fossil fuels. 

“We believe hanging on to fossil fuel assets is a financial risk,” said UC Office of the President Investment Committee and Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Bachher in a statement. “That’s why we will have made our $13.4 billion endowment ‘fossil free’ as of the end of this month [September 2019], and why our $70 billion pension will soon be that way as well.”

The $13.4 billion in endowments and $70 billion in pensions that the UC has committed to divesting make this the largest fossil fuel divestment by any public institution in history. 

Fossil Free UC, our committed group of student organizers, as a part of the global movement for climate justice, fought for this, tirelessly. We believe these companies are the most responsible for the climate crisis and divesting from them sends a powerful political message that institutions will not stand for climate injustice. We are living in increasingly tumultuous times as climate change threatens to make this planet unlivable — disproportionately impacting marginalized people, communities of color, and developing countries. 

The developed world has survived on extractivism, both of fossil fuels and of people, gained capital and profited from climate change. The climate justice movement is challenging this, pushing an agenda demanding a just transition, a livable world and equitable future for all. Divestment plays a key piece in that, setting a moral, ethical, political and economic precedent that institutions will not perpetuate climate injustice. The decision by the UC Regents to divest is a powerful one and a huge win in the struggle for climate justice. 

This would not have happened without the tireless work of both faculty and students. Student organizing and activism kept the pressure on the UC regents — for six years — demanding full divestment. We won in small strides early on, each year increasing our pressure, voices and presence. 

To all those who have been involved in this struggle, shown up at a meeting, event or direct action, we are eternally grateful. Thousands of people are responsible for this win, and we couldn’t have done it without them. 

From the entire Fossil Free Family, thank you for whatever role you may have played in our struggle and for standing in solidarity with all those fighting for climate justice.