The California legislature is currently considering a bill, Senate Bill (“SB”) 252, that would require the state’s largest public pension funds to divest from fossil fuel investments. As of this writing, the bill is currently under review by the State Assembly after being passed by the State Senate. I strongly support and endorse this bill, as I explained in a June 14 op-ed in the East Bay Times.
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (“CalPERS”) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (“CalSTRS”) are the two largest public pension funds in the U.S., providing retirement benefits to approximately three million members, including City of Oakland employees.
It is imperative that our planet slash fossil fuel use by nearly two-thirds by 2035 to secure a livable future. Reducing fossil fuel usage is especially important to protect California’s frontline and fenceline communities. Nearly 92 percent of people living within a mile of ongoing or new fossil fuel development in California are Black, Indigenous and other People of Color. These communities are disproportionately impacted by climate change, a legacy of historical redlining, and other discriminatory policies, laws and practices.
Divesting from fossil fuel companies is both financially prudent and the right thing to do. Fossil fuel companies are simply no longer a wise investment. In the past decade, market values of the four largest fossil fuel companies have dropped by more than 50%.
SB 252 also is endorsed by the Oakland Unified School District, Fossil Free California, and more than 140 other California organizations and unions representing more than 470,000 members. The climate activism network Stand.earth is supporting SB 252 as part of its nationwide climate finance campaign to get the financial sector to divest from fossil fuel projects and invest in climate solutions.
My office has a long history of advocating to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the catastrophic damage climate change has wrought and continues to cause. My endorsement of SB 252 is an example of my work fighting for climate justice.