UC Nobel winners underscore value of investments in higher education

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The awarding of the Nobel Prizes to three University of California faculty members this month underscores the importance of the state’s world-class public higher education system to advancing the pace of discovery and innovation that fuels economic growth and improves lives.

UC Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in chemistry with colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier for the co-development of CRISPR-Cas9, a genome editing breakthrough that has revolutionized biomedicine.

This technology allows scientists to rewrite DNA — the code of life — in any organism, including human cells. It has opened the door to treatments for thousands of diseases as well as new possibilities across biology and agriculture.

UC Berkeley Professor emeritus Reinhard Genzel and UCLA Professor Andrea Ghez shared half of the 2020 Nobel Prize in physics for “the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.”

They join a proud legacy of the UC system winning Nobel Prizes that stretches back to 1939 and includes 68 faculty and staff who have been awarded 69 Nobel Prizes. Their discoveries have advanced medicine, economics, physics and more, powering innovations that improve lives and strengthen the state’s and the nation’s economy.

To support them and help invigorate the economy, the state and federal government must continue to invest in California’s world-class public higher education system. The strength of the state’s economy will be critical to the nation’s recovery from the coronavirus downtown because California accounts for nearly 15% of the nation’s gross domestic product. The state’s public higher education system is critical to California’s economy. The UC system alone is the state’s third-largest employer and, along with the CSU, contributes over $60 billion to California’s economy every year.

As the world’s largest public research university system, UC is also responsible for sparking statewide innovation, with an


2019 was the second largest year ever for corporate solar investments

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Throughout 2019, tech companies such as Apple and Facebook, retailers such as Walmart and Target, and other corporations from real estate companies to banks installed a combined 1,283 megawatts of new commercial solar capacity in the United States—enough to power more than 243,000 homes.

That figure comes from the Solar Energy Industries Association’s latest Solar Means Business report. After 2017, 2019 was the second largest year on record for corporate solar investments (corporations installed 1,368 megawatts of solar capacity in 2017). U.S. corporations have invested in a cumulative total of 8,300 megawatts of solar power.

SEIA’s annual report tracks both on-site (solar panels on the roof of your local Walmart or Target) and off-site (when a company gets its energy from a separate solar farm) commercial solar installations. Though slightly behind 2017 in terms of overall added solar capacity, 2019 was a record year for on-site solar installations, with 845 megawatts of solar power installed right on company premises.

The annual report also ranks the top corporate solar users, based on a company’s overall solar capacity. Apple leads the country in terms of most solar capacity, followed by Amazon, Walmart, Target, and then Google in the top five. Walmart installed the most new solar in 2019 with 122 megawatts, which increased the company’s overall solar use by 35%. Now, Walmart has a total of 331 megawatts of solar capacity overall. Each week, according to SEIA, more than 7.2 million people—2.2% of the country’s population—shop at a Walmart store with a solar installation.

The top 10 corporate solar users:
1. Apple
2. Amazon
3. Walmart
4. Target
5. Google
6. Kaiser Permanente
7. Switch
8. Prologis
9. Facebook
10. Solvay

This surge in solar power is a result of both corporate environmental commitments and the fact that solar can save these


Cambridge University plans to stop fossil fuel investments by 2030

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  • Cambridge University becomes the latest high profile institution to announce its intention to divest from fossil fuels.
  • Its move away from fossil fuels is set to be staggered across a number of years. 

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The University of Cambridge said it would aim to “divest from all direct and indirect investments in fossil fuels” by the year 2030.


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In a statement outlining its plans, the British university said Thursday the £3.5 billion ($4.53 billion) Cambridge University Endowment Fund (CUEF) also intended to “ramp up investments in renewable energy as it divests from fossil fuels.”

The move is set to be staggered. Among other things, the CUEF will: “withdraw investments with conventional energy-focused public equity managers” by December of this year; develop “significant investments in renewable energy” by the year 2025; and “divest from all meaningful exposure in fossil fuels by 2030.”

In addition, the fund will look to reach “net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its entire investment portfolio by 2038.”

Tilly Franklin, the university’s chief investment officer, described climate change, ecological destruction and biodiversity loss as presenting “an urgent existential threat, with severe risks to humankind and all other life on Earth.”

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“The Investment Office has responded to those threats by pursuing a strategy that aims to support and encourage the global transition to a carbon-neutral economy,” she added.

In another step which could have significant implications in the years ahead, Cambridge explained that, going forward, “all research funding and other donations” would be scrutinized to make sure donors could “demonstrate compatibility with the University’s objectives on cutting greenhouse gas emissions before any funding is accepted.”

Tracing its roots all the way back to


Cambridge University ending fossil fuel investments

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LONDON — The University of Cambridge said Thursday that it will kick all fossil fuel investments out of its portfolio within the next decade as part of a plan to end the emissions of greenhouse gases it’s responsible for by 2038.

The centuries-old English institution is joining a growing list of universities around the world giving in to pressure from environmental campaigners, including their own students, to act against climate change.

“The university is responding comprehensively to a pressing environmental and moral need for action with an historic announcement that demonstrates our determination to seek solutions to the climate crisis,” Vice Chancellor Stephen Toope said in his annual university address. “We will approach with renewed confidence our collaborations with government, industry and research partners around the world as together we work for a zero carbon future.”

Cambridge said its 3.5 billion pound ($4.5 billion) endowment fund will shift investment from fossil fuels toward renewable energy by 2030.

By 2038, the university aims to achieve what is known as “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions across its entire portfolio, meaning none of the businesses it invests in generate more emissions than they capture.

“We will be measuring emissions from the activities of every investment in everything from food to transport to energy and manufacturing, across asset classes, and working to reduce them progressively over the period with an aim to reach zero by 2038,” the university’s chief investment officer, Tilly Franklin, said. “The aim is to build an investment portfolio which is reflective of a future net zero economy.”

The British government has set a net zero target for the country as a whole by 2050.

Cambridge University has long been a place of learning for the elite, counting royalty, such as Prince Charles and his son William, famous scientists such as