University of California sells off $200 million in coal, oil sands assets

University of California sells off $200 million in coal, oil sands assets

University of California, Berkeley Campus. (Image courtesy of UC)

The University of California became the latest American educational institution to unload its endowment and pension fund holdings in coal and oil sands companies, in a $200 million move linked to environmental concerns and rising financial risk.

Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Bachher said the assets were no longer good investments for the university's $98.2 billion fund, Reuters reported.

UC still holds about $10 billion in other energy and utilities industry investments — equivalent to about 10% of the system's endowment and pension funds. Bachher noted there were no plans to shed oil and natural gas stocks as, he said, "the world is not switching out of fossil fuels."

However he said in a statement the university believes that climate change is “an active risk factor to consider when we evaluate investment opportunities.”

The decision comes after the California state legislature last week passed a bill requiring its two large state pension funds – Calpers and CalSTRS – to divest from coal mining companies.

It also comes almost exactly a year after the university system’s regents committee announced it would not sell off stocks and holdings in oil, coal and natural gas. At the time, the committee said they were “trying to balance the cause of climate change with the need to earn strong financial returns in the funds that support pensions, faculty chairs and scholarships,” according to Los Angeles Times.

Stanford University and the University of Maine have recently made similar moves.