California Teachers Deliver Scathing Climate Report Card To CalSTRS Retirement Fund


Contact: Vanessa Warheit, 415-225-4435 or Miriam Eide,, 507-923-6346

California Teachers Deliver Scathing Climate Report Card
To CalSTRS Retirement Fund

Amidst Multiple Climate Disasters, Nation’s Second Largest Pension Fund Receives Failing Grades on “Climate Competence”

West Sacramento, California — Returning to school amidst a pandemic and multiple climate disasters, public school teachers from across California have delivered failing grades to their retirement system, CalSTRS, for how it is addressing the climate crisis. Timed to coincide with the fund’s bimonthly board meeting on Sept. 2, the “Climate Competence Report Card” grades the mega-fund – with over $253B in assets under management – on its performance across a range of criteria. The report card comes as California struggles to deal with unprecedented “giga-fires” that have burned over a million acres in the past two weeks – two months ahead of the state’s normal fire season. 

America’s largest teachers retirement fund — and the second-largest public pension fund in the nation — received grades on its investments in fossil fuels, its coal divestment policy, the published review of its exposure to climate-induced financial risk, and its ongoing engagement with both fossil fuel corporations and the financial sector. “A fund which claims to make business and investment decisions based on environmental, social and governance implications should score much, much higher on all of these metrics,” said Vanessa Warheit, Executive Director of Fossil Free California. “We know the fund can – and must – do better.”

CalSTRS, the second-largest pension fund in the United States, is entrusted with the retirement savings of almost one million public school teachers. It currently has $6B invested in the fossil fuel industry. Unions representing over 142,000 California teachers have already signed resolutions urging CalSTRS to divest from fossil fuels.

Fossil Free California is a 501c3 non-profit, founded by California school teachers. Its mission is to move money out of fossil fuels and support a just transition to a clean energy economy that works for everyone. 

CalSTRS member teachers had the following comments on the report card: 

“CalSTRS needs to understand and realistically apply climate science when assessing the ESG risks of their investments. This is why their Risk Assessment in the Green Initiative Task Force Report receives an F.”
– Diana Curiel, retired science teacher, Hayward Unified School District

“Like all teachers, I use report card grades to communicate student progress. I’ve been attending CalSTRS meetings for nearly a year now to express my concerns about investments in fossil fuels, but there has been literally no response. The grades on this report card reflect my serious concerns with the choices CalSTRS continues to make regarding fossil fuel investments.”
– Lynne Nittler, retired English teacher, Vacaville Unified School District

“To grasp the full-extent of the risks of fossil fuel investments, CalSTRS board members should research far more thoroughly their risks to the fund, and they should rely less on staff preferences which have already cost the fund billions.”
– Jane Vosberg, retired English and Spanish teacher, Santa Rosa City Schools District

“CalSTRS needs to listen deeply to teachers and retirees who do not want their pensions invested in fossil fuels.”
– Jennifer Biehn, retired administrator and instructor, City College of San Francisco