Cut All Ties between UC and the Fossil Fuel Industry

UC President Michael Drake, UC CFO Nathan Brostrom, & UC Regents

For over 50 years, fossil fuel companies have known that burning fossil fuels drives climate change by dangerously warming our atmosphere, and that drilling for fossil fuels releases environmentally and biologically toxic chemicals that harm nearby residents too poor to get out of the way.   In California alone, the (health and environmental) public cost of using fossil fuels -- extracting, producing, burning -- will top $10 trillion by 2045.

Despite this knowledge fossil fuel companies have persisted and expanded -- putting profits above people -- and even funded disinformation campaigns to keep the public unaware and politicians on their side. Their strategies include greenwashing and university infiltration: fossil fuel execs and attorneys serving on university boards, fossil fuel funding of faculty research, FF recruiting of UC students for lucrative, planet-destroying careers. Tell UC's President, Chief Financial Officer, and Regents: Fossil fuel companies and their allies have no place at UC, charged as it is with preparing students for their future. UC must completely DISSOCIATE now.

Sponsored by

To: UC President Michael Drake, UC CFO Nathan Brostrom, & UC Regents
From: [Your Name]

Dear President Drake, CFO Brostrom, and UC Regents,

First, we would like to voice our gratitude for all the work that your administration has done so far to address the UC system’s greenhouse gas emissions. We are proud to belong to an institution where some campuses such as UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz are leading the country in on-campus decarbonization efforts.

However, it is apparent that the UC system still remains connected in many ways to the fossil fuel industry. The UC Retirement Plan (UCRP) holds shares in hedge funds that own shares in fossil fuel companies, the UC borrows from “dirty banks” like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and U.S. Bancorp that finance fossil fuel infrastructure, UC professors are allowed to partner with fossil fuel companies with no additional oversight, UC Chancellors are advised by trustees with past or present work experience at companies fueling the climate crisis, and UC campuses invite fossil fuel companies to recruit on campus and partner with an employment opportunities website, Handshake, on which hundreds of fossil fuel companies actively recruit. See for the factual basis underlying our demands.

Around the country, students, faculty, and staff are expecting their universities not only to decarbonize and divest (necessary as these are), but to completely DISSOCIATE from fossil fuel companies. Every student – and especially every UC student – deserves a “fossil-free degree.” This means a degree provided by an institution that shows leadership by opposing the extraction and continued use of fossil fuels both in word and in deed.

Therefore, we demand:

A mandatory review process for – or better yet, a total ban on – any professor or department/institute receiving research grants or donations from a fossil fuel corporation, similar to UC Regent Policy 2309 on tobacco funding,

An immediate ban of fossil fuel companies from recruiting UC students on campus or on the Handshake platform (for which there’s already precedent in the UK),

Immediate termination of all Trustees with past or present work experience at fossil fuel companies and their enablers,

Immediate severance of business agreements with banks that have links to fossil fuel companies, and a shift towards smaller and more environmentally ethical banking firms rooted in our communities, and

Immediate divestment of both the UCRP and individual campus Foundations from stocks that do business with fossil fuel companies.

We understand that some of these changes cannot be made overnight, but we are confident that you can see the urgency of this situation and will do your best to begin the process as soon as possible. Our hard-earned reputation for academic independence, and our own futures, depend on it.