Divestment

Teachers to CalSTRS: Divest now!

CalSTRSJane Vosburg is a member of the California State Teachers' Retirement System who campaigns for divestment with 350 Sonoma County and Educators for Fossil Free Divestment. On November 7, she spoke to the CalSTRS Investment Committee meeting in West Sacramento.

Thank you for allowing me this time to comment, and thank you, Sharon Hendricks and Paul Rosenstiel, for requesting educational guest speakers to be a part of CalSTRS' focus this year on sustainability. Finally, thank you, Jack Ehnes, for inviting Al Gore, David Blood, and Tom Steyer to February’s meeting. 

We are living in unprecedented times. Last week the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change issued its fifth report, laying out the dire, irreversible consequences of global warming if we fail to reduce carbon emissions now. This September, the $860 million Rockefeller Foundation—who owes its very existence to oil—announced its divestment from fossil fuel, and last week UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated that he has "been urging companies like pension funds or insurance companies to reduce their investments in a fossil-fuel based economy [and shift] to renewable sources of energy."  And all this takes place while humanity stays on course for raising the global temperature by 6 degrees Celsius, which would make the planet uninhabitable. These are indeed unprecedented times.

We CalSTRS investors urge you, the Investment Committee, to support a reasonable resolution to immediately freeze any new investments in the fossil fuel industry and sell all other such funds over a period of five years.

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Urge CalPERS to divest!

This post is by Elise Miller of San Mateo, a CalPERS member. To join Elise in petitioning the CalPERS board to divest, click here. 
CalPERS atrium

In 1998, I retired from San Diego State University and as a state employee for 16 years, became a proud member of CalPERS, the California Public Employees' Retirement System—at $301 billion, one of the largest such funds in the nation. Today, I was stunned and saddened to find out that my pension money is funding oil, gas, and coal and blocking the transition to renewable energy.

I recently read in the CalPERS newsletter that my retirement fund has a set of "investment beliefs." I was pleased to see that environmental and climate issues were among its concerns.

Why was I especially pleased? When my children were in elementary school, I began to write letters to corporations and elected officials about preserving the environment. In those days, we talked about "pollution"—air, water, land. The most global we got was the Rainforest Action Network and anti-nuclear protests in the 1970s and 1980s. That was working for the future—my children’s future. 

Suddenly, it is the future. As my children and their friends meet the challenges of their thirties, all our environmental issues are global and the last calendar page has been torn off.

Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time, bar none. War? Racism? Income inequality? All urgent, but I am learning that climate change does not affect everyone equally, and so it is also a social justice issue. Problems bundled together are easier to attack, and my own attack now begins against unethical, dangerous fossil fuel investment, and climate change.

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