Largest Public University Yet Dumps Coal

The University of Washington (UW) will divest roughly $2 million of its endowment from coal companies, citing “the seriousness of the climate change problem,” after a vote by the school’s board of regents Thursday night.

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“Our action today is the latest element of the University’s long-term commitment to improving the environment through world-class research and state-of-the-art sustainability practices,” board chair Bill Ayer said in a statement.

“The Regents take very seriously their responsibility for managing the University’s investment portfolio… It has made divestment decisions only a few times on matters it felt represented important values. That we decided to divest from coal companies today reflects the seriousness of the climate change problem,” he added.

The decision comes after nearly three years of campaigning by student organizers with Divest UW—and makes it the largest public university to take that step.

“I’m proud of our school. The ‘Yes’ for coal divestment makes the UW a leader in the moral fight of our generation,” said Carly Marshall, a NASA Space Grant scholar.

Alex Lenferna, a South African Fulbright Scholar at UW and a leader of the divestment campaign, said the move is “one important step forward towards climate justice.”

“We are under no illusions that it will solve climate change by itself—nothing does,” Lenferna said. “Rather, divestment is one of a thousand cuts in a much broader societal, moral, economic and financial transformation that can jointly rein in the fossil fuel industry and usher in a clean energy future.”