Time’s Up, CalPERS! Defund Climate Chaos

On November 1, Managing Director Anne Simpson and other CalPERS dignitaries will appear on the global stage of the COP26 conference in Glasgow. This climate summit (competing for air time with climate-change-fueled natural disasters and the continuing global pandemic) is another opportunity for world leaders to pledge to address climate chaos by setting emissions reduction goals and making investment commitments.

With assets now topping $450 billion and more than $30 billion invested in fossil fuels, CalPERS could significantly affect the flow of finance to fossil fuel producers and utilities — if they chose to constrain fossil fuel investments for financial and other reasons. Unfortunately, both Board and staff seem determined to continue funding fossil fuels through passive management of equities and active investments in private markets.

Is this how public employees want to see their retirement savings used? Please join us in telling CalPERS “Time’s Up!” at the September 13 Board meeting (on Zoom) Whether you are an active CalPERS member, a CalPERS retiree, or a concerned Californian, CalPERS needs to hear your voice. Click here for talking points and call-in instructions.

Although CalPERS has repeatedly pledged to achieve “net-zero” emissions in its portfolio by no later than 2050, that goal depends on the actions of the companies it owns. In our opinion, that’s a risky strategy and, some might say, an abdication of responsibility. CalPERS’ preference for shareholder engagement — without divestment — has so far led only to greenwashing and delay. Despite their (one assumes) good intentions, CalPERS is “slow-walking the climate crisis”, as Bill McKibben said in a recent New Yorker article.

From September 6-13 the international climate watchdog group Reclaim Finance is spotlighting CalPERS as “Greenwasher of the Day”, specifically citing its holdings in coal mines and coal-fired power plants. With nearly $8 billion invested in companies that appear on the Global Coal Exit list, CalPERS is one of the top 30 investors in coal, worldwide, according to Urgewald’s finance research. With another $22 billion invested in oil, gas, and related industries, CalPERS has invested nearly 8% of its portfolio in toxic, climate-damaging fossil fuels.

Times Up CalPERS