The resolution will not likely result in new legislative action soon. However, it could generate enough support among the Democratic majority to pass a less aggressive divestment bill, Senate Bill 185, working its way through the state legislature.
Before the final vote, RL Miller, chair of the California Democratic Party's environmental caucus and author of the resolution, delivered a one-minute speech. In an interview with InsideClimate News she recounted her message: "The world is watching...We need to send a moral message that California will not invest in those businesses that burn our planet in the name of profit and this resolution is that message.
"Divestment from South Africa helped bring down the system of apartheid and [divestment] will likewise bring down our dependence on fossil fuels. And further, [the] passage of this resolution will help pass Senate Bill 185."
Beyond California, this resolution adds to the fast-growing momentum of the fossil fuel divestment movement, which kicked off on college campuses in 2011 and has spread to cities and major corporations worldwide.
California, which boasts the eighth-largest economy in the world, is part of a regional carbon trading system with four Canadian provinces. The state has repeatedly expanded its carbon reduction strategy in recent years. Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
Two schools in the California State University system—Humboldt State University and San Francisco State University—have committed to fossil fuel divestment, joining seven other colleges in the state. Stanford University, a private institution, pledged to divest from coal assets last summer.
At least 22 other universities outside of California have already divested or committed to do so. Last month, Syracuse University became the largest university to take that step, promising to clear its $1.18 billion endowment portfolio of fossil fuel holdings.