Fossil Free UCSF

“Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century” –The Lancet1

In 2001, the University of California divested from tobacco, citing public health risks.

Today, UC faculty, alumni, students, and staff are asking the Regents to stop investing in the 200 companies most driving global climate change.

Stanford, SF State, and 100+ other organizations have already taken action.

But we need your support to convince the UC Regents to act.

Sign on to our letter (30 secs)   Write the regents (5 mins)   Join alumni/donors for divestment

Questions? Want to help? Email us at

Why is climate change a top health threat?

According to the WHO, global warming has already caused over 140,000 excess deaths, and direct damage costs to health are estimated to be between $2-4 billion by 2030.2

Climate change affects basic determinants of health: clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food, and secure shelter. Areas with weak health infrastructure (mostly in developing countries) will be the least able to cope. Killers such as diarrheal diseases, malnutrition, malaria and dengue are highly climate-sensitive and expected to worsen.

Read the WHO's factsheet on climate change and health »

“From the children of Fresno to the homeless of San Francisco, we’ve seen the profound health impacts that climate change has had on our patients: severe asthma exacerbations (the leading cause of school absenteeism), dehydration, and heat stroke, just to name a few.”

Zack Wettstein, UCSF Medical Student

What are we asking for?

We join faculty, students, and staff from all ten UC campuses in asking the Regents to:

  • adopt a five-year plan to freeze new fossil fuel investments
  • avoid investments in the 200 most destructive companies
  • roll out investment alternatives that address climate-risk and sustainability

Read Fossil Free UC's request to the UC Regents »

“On a global scale, we’re like the 20-year-old smoker who feels nothing now, but will look back to regret not having addressed his tobacco addiction when he gets the diagnosis of incurable lung cancer 30 years from now. Our current addiction to fossil fuels is leading inevitably to a global climate catastrophe, and we need to kick the habit now to avoid the consequences later.”

Linda Rudolph, Center for Public Health & Climate Change

What’s the bigger strategy?

Divestment is a strategy to politically, morally, and financially expose the reckless business model of the fossil fuel industry putting our world at risk. It exposes the industry’s influence on our democratic system, its perpetuation of climate change denial, and its continued extraction of hydrocarbons that heat our planet and harm human health.

The University of California has a history of taking leadership in divesting from tobacco and from the racist South African apartheid state. Many credit the UC for leading the successful global South African apartheid divestment campaign, as one of the first major research universities to divest.

Read Fossil Free UC's FAQ »

“During the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, using boycotts, divestment and sanctions, and supported by our friends overseas, we were not only able to apply economic pressure on the unjust state, but also serious moral pressure. It is clear that those countries and companies primarily responsible for emitting carbon and accelerating climate change are not simply going to give up; they stand to make too much money.”

Bishop Desmond Tutu

Will this affect UC’s investments?

Of course the effect of any investment decision is impossible to predict with certainty. However, based on a 2013 analysis by the Aperio Group, fossil-free portfolios' risks and returns are similar to those with fossil fuels over the previous 10 years.

As described in the seminal article by Bill McKibben, valuation of fossil fuel companies is based partly on their known reserves. Since known reserves of fossil fuels exceed by a factor of 5 the estimated amount that can be burned without catastrophic climate change, these reserves need to be left in the ground, making them stranded assets. Thus given climate realities, most fossil fuel companies are likely to be over-valued.

Read the Aperio Group's analysis of fossil-free portfolios »

“UC should invest looking forward, not back.”

Tom Newman, UCSF Professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and Pediatrics

Who’s already committed to divest?


US cities:

  • Seattle, WA
  • Portland, OR
  • Oakland, CA
  • Berkeley, CA
  • Madison, WI
  • Ithaca, NY
  • Providence, RI
  • Cambridge, MA
  • (and many, many, more)

Bay Area universities:

  • Stanford
  • SF State
  • Foothill-DeAnza College

See the 100+ organizations that have committed to divest »

“So what can health professionals do?

Firstly, we should push our own organisations (universities, hospitals, primary care providers, medical societies, drug and device companies) to divest from fossil fuel industries completely and as quickly as possible, reinvest in renewable energy sources, and move to “renewable” energy suppliers.”

McCoy, Montgomery, Arulkumaran, and Godlee, "Climate change and human survival." BMJ. 2014

Want more details?

“I spent a year interviewing climate researchers, activists, and impacted communities around the world. Over and over, I heard people ask why Americans were so slow to respond to the science. This is the time to divest.”

Anirvan Chatterjee, Director of Data Strategy, CTSI at UCSF

Get involved!

Have a minute?
Start by signing on to the shared letter (30 seconds)

Have a little bit more time?
Write a letter to the regents (5 minutes)

Are you an alumni or donor?
Support the Donors for Divestment campaign

“It makes sense on a financial level. And it makes moral sense. I urge you to make the decision to divest from fossil fuels.”

Annemarie Donjacour, UCSF Assistant Professor, Anatomy