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Climate Justice Coalition Cheers As Sen. Gonzalez Introduces Fossil Fuel Pension Divestment Bill

By Anna Peel. Originally published at ValueWalk.

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Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) will introduce SB 1173 Fossil Fuel Divestment Act in the California state legislature this week. The bill would mandate that California’s public pension funds stop investing in fossil fuel companies. On February 17th, Sen. Gonzalez’ office will hold a press conference on Thursday, February 17th at 11:30am.


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The Fossil Fuel Pension Divestment Bill

“As a leader in the fight against climate change, California must align the investment choices we make with our moral and environmental goals,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “Investing billions in the fossil fuel companies that are polluting our environment while at the same time trying to meet ambitious emissions reduction goals is contradictory and incongruous. SB 1173 will ensure we remain true to our values and honor our commitment as a State to protecting the environment and the health and future of all Californians, including historically disadvantaged communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by the hazardous pollutants released into our communities by these companies.”

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) have over $9 billion invested in fossil fuel producers and related energy sector industries.

“Divestment is essential to the wellbeing of the large community of people of color being affected by fossil fuel investments, along with the entirety of the planet, which is being greatly harmed,” said 15-year-old Anaya Sayal of Youth vs. Apocalypse.

“For the past 8 years CalSTRS and CalPERS have ignored the calls of students, teachers, and state workers to divest their pensions,” said Miriam Eide, Coordinating Director at Fossil Free California. “Many studies have shown that fossil fuels are a volatile and risky investment and over the last few years have lost money compared to other kinds of investments. We can’t reach the state’s climate goals if we keep propping up the companies creating the climate crisis.”

“Divestment is the right thing to do for climate change and is a smart financial move for our pensions. We have to stop pretending that fossil fuel companies are good corporate citizens,” said Carlos Davidson, CFA Peace & Justice Committee member and retired San Francisco State professor. “CFA wields a powerful credential in California, and we can best serve our principles of social and racial justice by taking a lead in climate justice for future generations of students, families and communities.”

The bill would require these state pension funds to make no new investments in fossil fuel companies, and to divest existing fossil fuel investments by June 2027. In 2015, the Legislature passed a similar bill requiring CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest from coal companies. Since then, the University of California and California State University systems, the states of Maine and New York, New York City, the province of Quebec, the Vatican, Unitarian Church, and World Council of Churches have made similar announcements.


About Senator Lena Gonzalez

Senator Gonzalez represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes the City of Long Beach and portions of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles including the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, and South Gate. Senator Gonzalez lives in Long Beach with her husband Adam and three sons.

Senator Scott Wiener represents San Francisco and northern San Mateo County in the California State Senate. Elected in 2016, Senator Wiener focuses extensively on housing, transportation, civil rights, criminal justice reform, clean energy, and alleviating poverty. He chairs the Senate Housing Committee and is Vice Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus.

Fossil Free California works to end financial support for climate-damaging fossil fuels and promotes the transition to a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. Their campaigns center on pressuring California’s state pensions to divest from fossil fuels.

The California Faculty Association is an anti-racist and social justice union that represents more than 29,000 tenure-line instructional faculty, lecturers, librarians, counselors, and coaches on the 23 campuses of the California State University system, from Cal Poly Humboldt in the north, to San Diego State in the south. They advocate for students, higher education, and faculty rights. Learn more about CFA at calfac.org.

Youth Vs. Apocalypse is a diverse group of young climate justice activists working together to lift the voices of youth, in particular youth of color and working class youth. Their collective action aims to fight for a livable climate and an equitable, sustainable, and just world.

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