2020 Divestment Wins

Throughout this year, we have continued to fight alongside our allies to push for divestment of the CalPERS and CalSTRS pension funds. 2020 has turned out to be a formational year in setting the stage for greater wins in 2021 and beyond. This year marked a turning point in the profitability of oil where for the first time oil prices briefly fell below zero. 

On a national scale, major banks have begun making pledges to stop insuring and funding Arctic drilling and have even been pulling out of supporting domestic pipelines! Fossil fuels’ diminishing returns have set the stage for big divestment wins in California as well. 

In 2020,

  1. University of California divested their entire portfolio from fossil fuels
  2. We published a report on CalPERS’ coal investments prompting a blustering response statement that was published on CalPERS’ Twitter and sent to a large mailing list
  3. CalSTRS’ Chris Ailman publicly admitted that their Exxon stocks have been losing money
  4. The Piedmont Teachers Association demanded that the CalSTRS pension fund divest
  5. The Faculty Association of California Community Colleges demanded the full divestment of CalSTRS pension fund
  6. Team Marine took on divestment and pushed a unanimous vote to demand CalSTRS divest through the Santa Monica Teachers Union
  7. Los Angeles City Council voted to reduce fossil fuel investments
  8. Divestment is highlighted as a necessary strategy tool in the Responsible Investment Roadmap for California
  9. Ben Meng, CalPERS’ CIO, stepped down following breach of ethics regulations paving the way for more sustainable investment strategy to be considered in his replacement
  10. Record setting wildfires brought climate change to the forefront of media attention and is forcing a deeper reckoning around our ongoing commitment to fossil fuels

While California has seen deep reckoning with their financial relationship to fossil fuels, nationally and internationally there have been enormous breakthroughs for divestment. Notably:

  1. New York Pension fund announces their intention to eliminate fossil fuels from their portfolio
  2. Cambridge University divested from fossil fuels
  3. The Pope called for divestment
  4. 47 faith institutions divested from fossil fuels\

As we enter 2021, Fossil Free California is using the growing understanding that fossil fuels are unprofitable risks to investment portfolios to increase the intensity of our demands of CalSTRS and CalPERS. We will continue to support our allies in their fossil fuel divestment and phase out efforts across the state and nation. These wins will continue to build evidence to pressure the nation’s two largest pensions to make the right decision—to leave a toxic industry and invest in the future.