About Fossil Free California
Who are we?
We are concerned California residents — active in local 350 climate groups and allied environmental organizations — who care about the future of our state and our planet. Many of us are members of CalPERS and CalSTRS, the two largest public pension funds in the country.
As Californians concerned about the catastrophic effects of climate change, we are dedicated to convincing public institutions, private institutions, and individuals statewide to divest from all fossil fuels: coal, oil, and gas. We urge immediate cessation of new investment in fossil fuel companies and complete divestment by 2020.
Fossil Free California is governed by a Board of Directors, focused on these campaigns:
- Deborah Silvey: Coordination and outreach
- Janet Cox and Christine Shewmaker: Legislative campaign
- Glenn Fieldman and Emily Laskin: Local divestment campaigns
- Sandy Emerson: Individual divestment campaign
- Liz Christiano: Move Your Money
- Martha Turner: CalPERS campaign
- Jane Vosburg: CalSTRS campaign
FFCA Board (in bold) and other members, left to right: Darcy Sweeney, Deborah Silvey, Jane Vosburg, Janet Cox (with Rainey the dog), Hoi An Truong, Sandy Emerson, Madelyn Stelmach, Jeff Hoffman, Anne Marie Tipton, and Martha Turner.
What are we doing?
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Building a movement
Fossil Free California is building a movement to minimize the risk of climate change and ensure economic stability for all Californians. We are focused particularly on the risk to those who are retired — or soon will be retired — and who depend on public and private pensions and on their own savings. All of these income sources will be more reliable after fossil fuel holdings are removed from their portfolios.
Focusing on state pension funds
The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) is the largest public pension fund in the country, with investments of about $300 billion and 1.8 million members. The California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) is the second largest, at about $200 billion and 900,000 members.
Both funds are known worldwide as prudent investors. If they accelerate their move toward sustainability and divest from fossil fuels, many other investors will follow their lead.
Urging divestment by 2020
We urge both CalPERS and CalSTRS to stop making any new investments in coal, oil, and gas companies now. We also urge them to sell all of their fossil fuel holdings by 2020, starting immediately with the most egregious carbon polluters, Big Oil companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Shell.
FFCA also supports other municipal and institutional funds in California that are divesting, and we provide information to individuals who want to purge fossil fuels from their own portfolios.
Why are we doing it?
You can help
Fossil fuels must stay in the ground
If we are going to tackle climate change, the fossil fuel reserves that companies are literally banking on need to stay in the ground. Climate change experts agree that if we want to have a chance at avoiding the most catastrophic climate effects — including sea level rise, extreme weather events, and loss of agricultural production — 80 percent of fossil reserves must not be burned.
Retirement funds are at risk
Fossil fuel companies are no longer wise long-term investment choices. Therefore, they are the wrong choices for our funds. CalSTRS Chief Executive Officer Jack Ehnes questions the wisdom of billions of our dollars being spent on exploration of fossil fuels, and so should you. CalPERS and CalSTRS have almost $20 billion combined of our funds invested in fossil fuel companies — that’s a lot of risk to our retirement future. There are better ways to invest these funds.