The California State University System, the largest in the U.S., has decided to divest from fossil fuels. The decision comes after a nine month campaign by the student group Divest the CSU.
The University’s Investment Advisory Committee voted to move immediately on divesting direct holdings in fossil fuel companies from its two big investment funds, and to work on divesting commingled funds over the next several years. The CSU’s two biggest financial portfolios have over 4.5 billion in assets, with $155 million in shares of fossil fuel companies, including over $80 million in Chevron and ExxonMobil bonds.
There has been an upswelling of student demands for divestment. In May the Cal State Student Association passed a resolution “strongly urging” CSU-wide fossil fuel divestment. Student government leaders at multiple campuses including CSUMB, San Francisco State, and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo have also passed similar resolutions. The California State University is the country’s largest public university system, with 23 campuses and almost a half million students.
Chancellor Joseph Castro said a decision on fossil fuel divestment would be “aligned with both our fiduciary obligations as stewards of these resources, and our long-standing commitment to sustainability.”
The decision comes at a time of tremendous momentum for the fossil fuel divestment movement with recent divestment commitments from Harvard, the state of Maine, New York State and New York City, the province of Quebec, the MacArthur Foundation and more.
In mere months, Divest The CSU grew from an idea hatched by a few students in late January, 2021 to a major campaign with a passionate group of students, faculty, and alumni who made the California State University system next on the growing list of colleges and universities that have divested from coal, oil, and gas.
“When I decided to start Divest The CSU, I knew that it was a winnable campaign,” said Lisa Swartz, founder. Swartz is a recent Cal Poly SLO (San Luis Obispo) physics graduate. “Fossil fuels are destroying our planet, and the call to divest is louder and clearer than ever before. All the same, I was amazed by just how much support our movement garnered from so many people across the campuses, and so quickly.”
Emeritus Professor at San Francisco State, Carlos Davidson, who worked with Divest the CSU, said “divestment is the right thing to do for climate change and our student’s futures and is a smart financial move.”
Here is the statement from the University