Fossil Free California is ramping up on many fronts. Our initial emphasis is on the state’s two big pension funds, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalPERS). That’s why we held this rally to launch the campaign at the CalPERS headquarters in Sacramento. Here are some additional photos from February 13.
Several local climate groups coordinated their efforts to make this Global Divestment Day event a success—especially 350 Sacramento, 350 Bay Area, 350 Sonoma County, and San Diego 350. Support from people at the national 350.org office was also crucial in bringing us all together.
Many of us in Fossil Free California are members (both active and retired) of the state pension funds, and we are working with allies around the state who also care about the future of our state and the security of our retirement. We want to minimize the risk of climate change and ensure economic stability for all Californians.
The launch included three speeches by CalPERS and CalSTRS members, who focused on the economic and humanitarian significance of fossil fuel divestment. There was also, on a lighter note, a street-theater confrontation between climate scientists and Big Oil. The Earth is broken, battered, and fracked, and her fate is in the balance, as you can see. What shall we do?
What we shall do is DIVEST! We’re building a movement to urge municipal and institutional funds, as well as the state funds, to stop making new investments in the dirtiest 200 coal, oil, and gas companies immediately, and to commit to selling all of their current holdings in those companies within five years.
Our goal is to live in a state free of the burden of fossil fuels. And shareholder engagement, we feel, will not achieve that goal, because the central business of fossil fuel companies is to find and sell coal, oil, and gas, and they are unlikely to change that central business for any reason. Even shareholders who understand the dangers of climate change and are dedicated to creating a more livable world—shareholders with the strong ESG record of CalPERS and CalSTRS, for example—are unlikely to convince the board and management of such companies to budge one millimeter. It’s easier to imagine Starbucks without coffee on the menu than to imagine Chevron as a solar-panel purveyor.