By Sara Theiss
Are you a CalPERS member or beneficiary? A California taxpayer? Someone who cares about the future of our planet? If so, please join Fossil Free California in Sacramento on March 18, 2019, when we’ll tell the Board of Directors of the CalPERS pension plan, the largest pension plan in the U.S., to divest from fossil fuels! On that day, the CalPERS board will meet to update its sustainable investing program – and we will be there to hold them accountable, for CalPERS beneficiaries, California taxpayers, and future generations.
Anyone can can speak for up to three minutes during the public comment period. See the list below of some of the many reasons for divestment. While the CalPERS board has a fiduciary duty to act on behalf of its beneficiaries, as public officials they also have a responsibility to act in the best interest of all Californians.
Please join us at 9 AM on Monday March 18, at the CalPERS Auditorium, Lincoln Plaza North, 400 Q Street, Sacramento, CA 95811. The Board needs to hear a broad spectrum of voices, including yours.
To join us on March 18, or for more information, including about car pools, please contact STheiss@ffca.org
Why should CalPERS divest?
- The burning of fossil fuels is a primary driver of climate change, so keeping fossil fuels in the ground is one of the best ways to address climate change. A full 80% of their fossil fuel assets are still in the ground – and they must stay there if we are to meet the terms of the Paris Agreement. If we cut off the flow of money to this industry, we can stop the flow of oil – giving our children and grandchildren a chance for a livable future.
- Divestment is a social and political strategy as well as an economic one. It is a deeply moral issue. It’s wrong to wreck the planet as well as profit from the wreckage.
- We’re almost out of time and we need to act NOW. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we must make “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” within the next 12 years, to hold global warming to moderate levels and avert climate catastrophe. If we don’t act immediately, we know we’ll see impacts far worse than the droughts, wildfires, floods, and rising seas we are already experiencing here in California.
- Fossil fuels are an increasingly unsound financial investment. New York State’s pension fund lost large sums over the past ten years by failing to divest from fossil fuels: a loss of over $19,000 per member. In 2018, the energy sector was the lowest on the S&P 500 Index, and in 2017 the second lowest. Fiscal, political, regulatory and litigation risks are growing; while volatility and the downward trajectory of returns are expected to continue. Yet CalPERS has been investing approximately 6% of its holdings are still in the top fossil fuel companies. Trillium Asset Management estimated that CalPERS already lost $3 billion due to their holdings in equity assets of some of the world’s 200 largest coal, oil, and gas companies over the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
- Portfolios with renewable energy are outperforming those with fossil fuels.
- Over $8 trillion has already been divested from fossil fuels. New York City, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Ireland are just three of the 1,000-plus jurisdictions and organizations that have committed to divestment. CalPERS needs to join the divestment movement now, before it’s left holding stranded assets.
Sara Theiss decided to focus on climate issues after retiring from the California Office of the State Public Defender in 2017, and now volunteers with Fossil Free California (FFCA) to end financial support for the fossil fuel industry. She is a CalPERS retiree and leads FFCA’s campaign on CalPERS divestment.