(Reuters) - A University of California panel announced recommendations on Wednesday to combat climate change and make the university more sustainable, but declined to endorse shedding its fossil fuel holdings from its $91 billion invesment portfolio.
The university's Task Force on Sustainable Investing suggested sinking more than $1 billion over a five-year period into climate change solutions, and greatly expanding its use of solar energy in an effort to make the university system carbon-neutral by 2025.
“We are looking under every rock in the university system for ways to alleviate the effects of climate change,” said Dianne Klein, a spokeswoman for UC President Janet Napolitano.
While the 11-person task force reached unanimous agreement on the importance of addressing climate change, the majority opposed divesting the university's $10 billion in fossil fuel-related companies and funds.
Thirteen U.S. universities, including Stanford, have stopped investing in coal, gas and oil, according to a statement from the UC Berkeley Faculty Association. Still, some UC officials argue that divesting from fossil fuels will not slow climate change and could hurt the university’s finances.
"We could have made a narrow divestment decision, but the university is not in the business of taking the easy route," Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher, who headed the task force, said in a statement. "This is a more difficult path but one we feel will be more effective over time.”
UC Santa Cruz junior Alden Phinney, a student member of the task force, said: “It’s good they’re taking a positive approach, but I’m disappointed [the university] isn’t addressing the bigger problems.”
“We can make as many solar panels as we want but if we continue to extract and combust fossil fuels at this rate, we’re not going to have a habitable world,” Phinney said.
The task force forwarded its recommendations to the UC Regents’ Committee on Investments, which meets on Friday. The committee will decide whether to pass the recommendations to the Board of Regents for a vote on Sept. 18.
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Peter Cooney)