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PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Thursday, June 6, 2013

UCSB Faculty Votes in Favor of Fossil Fuel Divestment

Last Thursday, May 30, in an historical move, the UCSB Faculty Legislature voted in favor of fossil fuel divestment; the first in the University of California system to do so.


Emily Williams UCSB Fossil Free Coordinator said, “We were just so overwhelmed, it was incredible. You could just feel the happiness and pride of the people I’ve been working with for the last year.” The debate was fiercely fought but the determination, the competence, and the persuasiveness of the Fossil Free divesters won out. UCSB has set a precedent that faculty senates across the UC system, and the nation, can and will follow now. This is the latest in a series of victories for the California-wide divestment movement. Just earlier this week Stanford University’s student government also voted in favor of fossil fuel divestment. As of now seven UC student governments have voted in favor of divestment.

The conviction that “if it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage “is spreading across the country, and is inspiring thousands of people to do what science urges and morality demands. The Fossil Free Movement has seen great success, exhibited once again with this milestone victory. With science on their side, with financial expertise on their side, and most importantly with morality on their side, the Fossil Free movement is becoming a truly formidable force.

John Foran, a professor at UCSB, stated “Thursday, May 30, 2013 was a historic day for the University of California, and for UC Santa Barbara. On that day we took a big step toward making the way we think about the long-term economic health of the university consistent with its strong commitment toward building a sustainable future, and saw the faculty agree with a far-sighted student call to rein in the unchecked power of the fossil fuel industry to dominate the conversation, corrupt our political system, and reap profit while ensuring an unlivable planet for generations to come. I hope that this message ripples out far and wide, to colleagues at the other UCs, to academic communities everywhere, and to the global climate justice movement whose goals we support.”

Quote from Theo Lequesne, EAB member:

Today, in an historical move, the UCSB faculty senate voted in favor of fossil fuel divestment; the first in the University of California system to do so. The debate in senate was fiercely fought but the determination, the competence, and the persuasiveness of the Fossil Free divesters won out. UCSB has set a precedent that faculty senates across the UC system, and the nation, can and will follow now. This is the latest in a series of victories for the California-wide divestment movement. O Stanford’s student government also voted in favor of fossil fuel divestment. The conviction that “if it wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage” is spreading across the country, and is inspiring thousands of people to do what science urges and morality demands. The Fossil Free Movement has gone from strength to strength, which has been exhibited once again with this milestone victory. With science on their side, with financial expertise on their side, and most importantly with morality on their side, the Fossil Free movement is becoming a truly formidable force.”

Quote from David Cleveland, Professor of Environmental Studies:

We see this vote as support for a broader discussion about the future, one that challenges the dominant assumptions that there is little we can do beyond making personal choices, and that allowing the fossil fuel industry to dominate the discussion is not in the best interest of global society.”

For more information, contact John Foran (foran@soc.ucsb.edu) or Emily Williams (emilylynnwilliams@gmail.com).

The resolution that was passed reads:

A Resolution Calling on the Regents to Divest the UC’s General Endowment Pool of Fossil Fuel Holdings

Whereas the threat posed by climate change is perhaps the biggest challenge facing humanity in the course of the 21st century, and the international community has consistently held that a total rise of less than 2 degrees Celsius is the maximum permissible warming of the planet,1 beyond which the risk of uncontrollable and devastating climate change increases unacceptably, and

Whereas the remaining atmospheric space for additional greenhouse gas emissions is estimated at approximately 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2) or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases to give an 80 percent chance of staying below 2ºC in this century,2 and

Whereas the proven world fossil fuel reserves (natural gas, oil, and coal) are currently estimated at 2,795 gigatons of CO2 (that is, nearly five times greater than the amount that would provide an 80% chance of staying below 2ºC), and

Whereas the University of California, and UC Santa Barbara in particular, should be at the forefront of building a sustainable future, and in a great many ways, already are making critical contributions in research, teaching, and community service that address the threat of climate change, and finally,

Whereas, the Associated Students of UC Santa Barbara, and of six other UC campuses have called upon the Regents of the University of California to divest the UC’s General Endowment Pool from its holdings in the fossil fuel industry,

Therefore, we, the Faculty Legislature of UC Santa Barbara, call upon the Regents of the University of California to divest the UC General Endowment Pool from direct ownership of fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds, and of any commingled funds that include such equities and bonds, and to do as soon as possible and no later than five years from now, and to explore vigorously the reinvestment of such funds in ways that contribute to limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, including investments in clean, alternative, renewable energies and sustainable economic activities.

Furthermore, we request that the Regents issue an annual public update [within 90 days after the end of the fiscal year] of the progress made to date on the divestment of such holdings from the UC investment portfolio.

1 That is, 2 degrees since about 1800, the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. This benchmark has been repeatedly affirmed at U.N. climate summits, such as the one in Durban, South Africa, in 2011 (UNFCCC, “The Durban Platform,” http://unfccc.int/key_steps/durban_outcomes/items/6825.php).

2 These numbers are found in Bill McKibben, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math: Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe - and that make clear who the real enemy is,” Rolling Stone (July 19, 2012), http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

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