University of California System
Endowment Value: $29.9 billion (2021)
The University of California is a public university system in California. It has 10 campuses located in Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. The Office of the Chief Investment Officer of the Regents manages the UC system’s endowment.
In September of 2014, the Office of the Chief Investment Officer (OCIO) developed and adopted a framework on sustainable investing. The framework, developed with input from the UC Board of Regents, UC students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders, requires the OCIO to consider ESG factors when making investment decisions. In 2017, UC adopted an additional policy to strengthen its ESG framework. The OCIO applies a handful of negative screens to its investments, including companies doing business in Sudan and those involved in thermal coal or oil sands, tobacco, firearms, and private prisons.
The UC has made significant investments in various sustainable companies, funds, and initiatives and is an active member in several climate-related investor groups. In 2015, the UC founded the Aligned Intermediary, an investment advisory group that helps long-term investors identify climate infrastructure projects in clean energy, water infrastructure, and waste-to-value that they can invest in. In 2017 the UC endowment made a $50 million sustainable agriculture investment through the AI platform. That same year, the UC became the first and only institutional investor to sign on to the Bill Gates Breakthrough Energy Coalition. In 2018, UC announced a commitment to invest $1 billion over five years in climate change solutions.
In July 2019, UC’s Academic Senate announced the passage of a Memorial calling on the UC Board of Regents to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies. The memorial was voted on by faculty at all 10 campuses of the university system and received a combined vote of 77% in favor.
In September of 2019, the University of California announced its plans to divest from all fossil fuel securities. Between UC’s endowment and its pension fund, the University divested over $80 billion from fossil fuels, making it the single largest act of fossil fuel divestment in the movement’s history. “We believe hanging onto fossil fuels is a financial risk,” said chief investments officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher of the University’s divestment decision. By May 2020, the University announced it had completed its divestment process. UC sold over $1 billion in fossil fuel assets.
In 2020, the University of California was featured in the Intentional Endowment Network’s case study on ESG investing. The study revealed that schools employing ESG investing practices saw the same or better returns as schools employing a traditional approach to investing. Read the full study here.
The UC System and/or Individual Campuses are a participant or member of the following Initiatives & Commitments:
- IEN Founding Member (2016)
- AASHE STARS:
- ACUPCC: Yes, 10 Campuses With Various Goals
- Billion Dollar Green Challenge: Yes, UC Los Angeles
- CDP: Yes
- Committee for Investor Responsibility: Yes (UC Merced, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz)
- Divestment Goal: Yes, full divestment
- INCR: Yes
- Montreal Carbon Pledge: Yes
- Sustainable Investment Fund: Yes
- Sustainable Investment Policy: Yes
- Principles for Responsible Investment: Yes
Other Sustainable Investing Practices:
- Sustainable Investing Framework, Office of the Chief Investment Officer of the Regents
- Chief Investment Officer of the Regents: Sustainable Investment Page
- Feb. 2015 - UC's Progress on Sustainable Investment Strategy
- Sept. 2014 - UC's Announcement of Sustainable Investment Strategy
- University of California Sustainability
- UC Berkeley's Sustainable Investment Fund
- University of California says it has fully divested from fossil fuels (May 2020)
- UC Investments creates a program to increase the percentage of diverse management professionals working with the endowment (December 2019)
- The University of California system is ending its investment in fossil fuels (September 2019)
- UC investments are going fossil free. But not exactly for the reasons you may think Jagdeep Singh Bachher and Richard Sterman, LA Times (September 2019)
- UC Faculty Call on Regents to Divest UC Funds from Fossil Fuels (July 2019)
- UC Administration to Reinvest $500 Million Away from Fossil Fuels (April 2018)
- UC investment plan seeks solutions to climate change (September 2015)