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UW Board of Regents votes to divest from fossil fuels

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At their September meeting, the UW Board of Regents voted to divest funds invested into fossil fuel companies. The new directive comes after a three-year campaign from campus environmental activists and will ensure that UW has no investments in the fossil fuel industry by 2027.

“The Board of Regents recognizes the gravity and the urgency of the situation with respect to climate change,” David Zeeck, chair of the UW Board of Regents, said. “With this resolution, the board wishes to avoid greenwashing and to take meaningful action, putting the University of Washington in the front ranks of universities addressing climate change through research, teaching, operations, and investments.” 

The move comes after years of activism from Institutional Climate Action, a coalition of students across colleges and universities throughout the state urging their institutions to divest from the fossil fuel industry. UW joins a growing list of universities across the country who have previously committed to similar divestment, including Cornell and Georgetown

In April 2021, the Board of Regents appointed an Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (ACSRI) that was tasked with looking into what a responsible transition from investing in traditional energy companies would look like. Between September 2021 and April 2022, the group met monthly and ultimately presented their findings to the Board of Regents during their May 2022 meeting.

Although infrequently called into use, ACSRI serves to advise the Board of Regents about divestment, defined as “the sale of specific companies and/or market sectors from the investment portfolio for financial, ethical, or political reasons,” and other issues surrounding socially responsible investing in the board’s Standing Orders

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Ben Packard served as the chair of the ACSRI and is executive director of UW’s EarthLab. 

“This is an important step forward for UW in realizing the full impact of all of the ways we can be part of the solution to addressing climate change,” Packard said in a statement.

Reach News Editor Luke Amrine at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @amrine_luke

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(1) comment

Melissa

It's good when they think about ecology, because we must leave nature clean for future generations. But modern technologies are not always environmentally friendly. For example, electric cars must have a nickel battery, and its extraction, transportation and processing are not at all environmentally friendly. But few people talk about it and come out so sometimes fossil fuels are still more environmentally friendly than their electrical counterparts.

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