The University of California System, Oakland, has sold $200 million in direct holdings of coal and oil sands companies.
Jagdeep Singh Bachher, chief investment officer, announced the sale Wednesday at the UC Regents investment committee meeting, said a news release from Fossil Free UC.
“We’ve gone one step further as part of our housekeeping and managing risks over the course of the year, and selling our direct holdings, to reiterate, in coal mining companies, oil sands-focused companies,” Mr. Bachher said at the meeting, according to Fossil Free UC, a divestment campaign made up of current and former UC students, faculty, staff and community members.
Mr. Bachher’s office manages around $90 billion for the university's endowment, pension fund and investment pools.
The sell-off comes nearly a year after the UC’s board of regents voted to establish and integrate a framework for sustainable investing — its response to student pressure to ban fossil-fuel investments. The framework approved September 2014 did not call for fossil-fuel divestment but did not rule it out either.
Wednesday’s announcement “is not a blanket disinvestment of fossil fuels, but part of a sustainable investing framework adopted several months ago, said UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein in an e-mail. “The university will also be adding carbon prices to its assessment of electric utility investment opportunities,” Ms. Klein wrote.
“Though the announcement is not accompanied by an official policy statement, students see this as a permanent shift in the operations of the investment office,” said Fossil Free UC.
Oil and gas investments were not part of the sell-off.
Other major universities that have agreed to coal sell-offs include Georgetown University, Washington; Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.; and the University of Maine, Bangor.
Just last week, California state lawmakers passed a bill mandating the $288 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Sacramento, and $191.3 billion California State Teachers’ Retirement System, West Sacramento, to liquidate their holdings in thermal coal companies by July 1, 2017. The bill is on its way to the desk of Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr. Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Mr. Brown, previously told Pensions & Investments in an e-mail, “Given the serious challenge of climate change, this bill deserves careful consideration. The governor has until Oct. 11 to act.” Mr. Westrup could not immediately be reached for additional comment Thursday.