UH, state leaders comment on UH divestment, 100% renewable energy mandate

HONOLULU–University of Hawaii decision-makers joined state Rep. Chris Lee Friday at the state capitol to comment on two recent major achievements in clean energy:  divestment by UH from all fossil fuels, and the passage of HB623, which mandates that 100 percent of Hawaii’s energy come from renewable sources by 2045. 

UH Professor Joseph Mobley and Sierra Club Conservation Chair Leilei Shih moderated a panel discussion among UH President David Lassner, UH Board of Regents Chair Randy Moore, and Lee.  International climate activist Stuart Scott will present the video above at the UN Climate Summit in Bonn, Germany this week.  Mobley and Shih were on the Task Group on Divestment and Sustainability that recommended divestment.

The University of Hawaii voted May 21 to divest its $66 million endowment from coal, oil and gas companies, making it the largest university yet to join the worldwide divestment movement.  The Board of Regents cited both “a moral and leadership rationale” and “a long term economic argument” for its decision.

Lee introduced and helped pass HB623, making Hawaii the first state in the nation to adopt a 100 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard.  Hawaii utilities will generate 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2045. 

Questions for the panel:
1) In your mind, what made this divestment campaign a success, as compared to other similar activist campaigns at UH?
2) Climate change has been described as “the defining crisis of our time.” How does divesting from fossil fuels help us to meet this crisis?
3) What important steps remain in achieving the University commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050?
4) How do the University’s commitment to divestment and carbon neutrality align with the clean energy goals of the state of Hawai‘i?
5) The University of Hawai‘i is the 30th university to divest from fossil fuels, but it is the largest public university. What message does this send?