On February 3, the Board of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System unanimously passed a motion to divest from U.S. thermal coal companies and to initiate engagement with non-U.S. companies. The motion was made by Board member and State Controller Betty Yee and seconded by State Treasurer John Chiang’s representative.
The financial impact of the decision is estimated at less than $1 million from affected holdings in CalSTRS’ U.S. Equity and Fixed Income Portfolios. The board found that divestment was consistent with both CalSTRS’ fiduciary duty and the provisions passed in Senate Bill 185 (de León) calling for divestment from thermal coal companies. CalSTRS decision is the culmination of a 10-month research and engagement process, initiated by the CalSTRS’ Investment Committee in April, 2015. Read the complete press release..
After the vote, Heather, Eric, and Darcy from Fossil Free California read public comments from teachers. Many of these comments call for divestment from all fossil fuels, not just coal. The video of CalSTRS’ noteworthy action begins with the divestment from coal item. Betty Yee’s motion is around 10:23; the public comments start around 14:30. After Retirement Committee chair Maggie Ellis’ compliments, a legal advisor defines fiduciary responsibility.
Jane Vosburg of Fossil Free California and 350 Sonoma County, who leads the team that has been appearing at CalSTRS’ investment committee meetings for more than two years, believes that CalSTRS’ divestment policy and current coal divestment leaves the doors wide open for other fossil fuel divestments.