Divestment

Next Oakland Meeting Monday, October 6

The next meeting of the 350 Bay Area divestment campaigns will be at the 350.org office, 1729 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, 7:00-9:00 pm Monday, October 6. Click here for details and to RSVP.


FFCAL-sexy_cropped.jpgStudents campaign for divestment!

Support University of California Divestment

The University of California Regents met in San Francisco September 17 and 18 to vote on investment policies. While they failed to support divestment from fossil fuels, their statement on sustainable investment left the door open to further consideration of divestment. More information is available at the Fossil Free UC website. The university belongs to the public, and it must stop funding the companies that are crippling the planet.


Oakland Moves toward Total Divestment

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June 10, 2014—This morning the Oakland City Council Finance and Management Committee unanimously approved a resolution to divest from all fossil fuels. The resolution now goes on the consent agenda of the full City Council at their next meeting June 17.

Councilmember Dan Kalb (center, in the photo) introduced the resolution, titled "To Prohibit And Discourage Investments In Fossil Fuel Companies." Six 350 Bay Area members spoke to the committee—Deborah Silvey, Ophir Bruck, Janet Cox, Stephanie Tidwell, Ruby MacDonald, and Linda Rudolph—along with Brian Beveridge of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, and several other members also attended.

Join us at the City Council meeting Tuesday, June 17, to support final passage of the resolution, when Oakland will join San Francisco, Berkeley, and Richmond as a fossil-free city. The consent agenda will begin at 5:30 pm in Council Chambers on the 3rd floor of City Hall (near 12th Street BART). 

UPDATE, June 17, 2014—The Oakland City Council unanimously approved the divestment resolution, along with a resolution against the expanding problem of crude oil by rail in the Bay Area.


Fossil Free UC Alums Publish Divestment Newsletter

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May 1, 2014—University of California alumni from 350 Bay Area and throughout the state are working closely with UC students to petition the Regents for complete divestment from fossil fuels. They have just published the first edition of their newsletter (click here), which includes an interview with Rebecca Solnit on the importance of activist engagement. Co-editors are Kathy Aschheim and John Taylor, and contributors to this issue are Chris Lenz, Elliot Goldstein, Jeff Huggins, and Kathy Barnhart.


SF Earth Day Parade Includes Divestment Activists

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April 19, 2014—Putting the politics back into Earth Day, many members of 350 Bay Area joined hundreds of other marchers from several environmental and social justice organizations in San Francisco today. The march started in Justin Herman Plaza, where Jane Vosberg and Madelyn Stelmach discussed the campaign for CalPERS and CalSTRS divestment. A marching band led the parade up Market Street from the Ferry Building to Civic Center, and Robert and Deborah Silvey carried banners calling for dirty-energy divestment and clean-energy reinvestment. Bill McKibben, Mark Hertsgaard, and other from the coalition spoke at the rally. (Photos by Kathy Barnhart)


Statewide Activists Plan Strategy for CalPERS/CalSTRS Divestment

CA Divestment Activists

 April 14, 2014—Twenty-three divestment activists from all around California met last weekend in Encino to plan next steps in the campaign for divestment of the two large state pension funds, CalSTRS for teachers and CalPERS for other public employees.

The April 11-13 summit gave a boost to our campaign for moving these funds toward divestment from fossil fuels. Funded by 350.org and held at the Holy Spirit Retreat Center, the summit brought together divestment activists for our first face-to-face statewide meeting. We were joined by Jay Carmona, 350’s divestment campaign manager, who brought in Kate Bartheleme as our facilitator. Kate, a trainer and consultant with Midwest Academy, led us the through the Midwest strategy chart used for campaign organizing. For an intense but enjoyable day and a half we dug into the theory and practice of organizing, and came out with a clear strategy for going forward in the weeks and months ahead.

With the energy generated at the summit, six CalPERS/CalSTRS groups are getting to work and setting up their first meetings. We’d love to have more members.

Here are the groups we have established so far:

  • Messaging and website

  • Strategy & Research for STRS

  • Strategy & Research for PERS

  • Labor Outreach STRS

  • Labor Outreach PERS

  • Cities

For more information or to join one of these groups, please contact Deborah Silvey at deborah.silvey@gmail.com. Join us! 


Alameda County Democrats Support Divestment

March 5, 2014 — This evening the Alameda County Democratic Party Central Committee adopted the resolution below, by unanimous vote, reports Janet Cox.

A substantively similar resolution was adopted in 2013 by the central committees of Ventura, Los Angeles, and Sacramento counties, and the Environmental Caucus of the California Democratic Party. The Alameda County Committee will submit this resolution to the whole party for approval at its Executive Board meeting in July. 

Please consider asking your local Central Committee to adopt this resolution!

Resolution in Support of Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies

WHEREAS the climate crisis is a severe threat to current and future generations and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report found that global warming is already causing costly disruption of human and natural systems throughout the world including the melting of Arctic ice, the ocean’s rise, increase in ocean’s acidity, flooding and drought; and

WHEREAS, Almost every government in the world has agreed through the 2009 Copenhagen Accord that any warming above a 2°C (3.6°F) rise would be hazardous, and that if humans pour only about 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere this limit will be not possible to maintain; and

WHEREAS, For the purposes of this resolution, a “fossil fuel company” shall be defined as any of the two hundred publicly-traded companies with the largest coal, oil, and gas reserves as measured by the gigatons of carbon dioxide that would be emitted if those reserves were extracted and burned, as listed in the Carbon Tracker Initiative’s “Unburnable Carbon” report; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alameda County Democratic Party calls upon the University of California and California State University endowments, and CALPERS and CALSTRS institutional pension funds, to immediately stop new investments in fossil fuel companies, to take steps to divest all holdings from the top 200 fossil fuel companies as determined by the Carbon Tracker list within five years, and to release periodic updates to the public, detailing progress made toward full divestment; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alameda County Democratic Party send a copy of this resolution to the Governor of the State of California, the Board of Regents of the University of California, the Chancellor of the California State University system, members of the state senate and state assembly representing Alameda County, asking support for institutional divestment from fossil fuels and for this resolution.


Peralta Board of Trustees Votes to Divest

Peralta_Board_divestment.JPGOn December 10, 2013, the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees voted unanimously to divest from fossil fuels. The Board adopted a resolution to "develop an official Board policy forthwith opposing any new direct investments in fossil-fuel companies," specifically the 200 companies on the Carbon Tracker list. The Board also supports divesting completely "at the earliest propitious moment within five years." 350.org members Ophir Bruck, Judy Pope, and Deborah Silvey spoke to the Board in support of the resolution. They are shown here at the meeting in Oakland with Board member Nicky Gonzalez Yuen (wearing cap).

The 30,000-student Peralta district, with campuses in Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda, has been at the forefront of the sustainability movement, mandating in 2007 to undertake dramatic reductions in its carbon footprint. On December 4, the Peralta Retirees Organization voted overwhelmingly to endorse divestment, providing additional support for the Board’s decision.

Peralta has a $200 million portfolio invested to provide supplemental health benefits for Peralta retirees. Last summer the Vice Chancellor for Finance carried out a financial impact study showing that fossil-fuel companies represent two percent of this portfolio, and he concluded that removing fossil fuels is a fiscally sound move for the district. The Peralta Retirement Board will meet in January to take action on this fund.

Peralta_Divests.jpgThe Board of Trustees' vote follows the October decision to divest by the Foothill-De Anza Community College Foundation. Peralta joins seven other colleges and universities and more than 20 cities and counties that have made divestment commitments, including several others in California.

To keep global warming below 2°C, most coal, oil, and gas must remain underground, and yet these phantom assets exaggerate the current book value of fossil-fuel companies. As a result, climate change has recently been identified as an investment risk by CalPERS, the large California state pension fund. And there is mounting concern in the financial community as a whole about the wisdom of investing in the fossil-fuel industry for any long-term investments.


Progress in Peralta Colleges Divestment

On October 10 Deborah Silvey and Ginny Dwyer, members of the 350 BA Divestment Team, met with the Peralta Community College District Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor for Finance, and two trustees who are supportive of our divestment resolution. The meeting was a followup to an earlier meeting during which the Chancellor requested that the Vice Chancellor for Finance conduct a study on the impact of divesting Peralta's funds from fossil fuels. The study indicated a negligible effect of divestment from the fossil fuel companies currently in the portfolio. It was thus agreed that our resolution will be presented to the Retirement Board (responsible for these special funds) at their quarterly meeting in December in preparation for taking it to the Board of Trustees in January.


CalPERS Identifies Climate Change as Risk Factor

On Monday, September 16, the Board of Directors of the $260 billion California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest public pension fund in the United States, voted to include references to climate change in its newly adopted list of investment beliefs. CalPERS members from 350 Bay Area (Linda Rudolph and Deborah Silvey) and from 350 Sacramento (Megan Elsea) attended the meeting, along with several SEIU 1000 members, speaking in support of including climate change as a key investment risk factor.

This small but significant change in wording will pave the way for CalPERS to analyze and quantify the risks to its portfolio of climate change in general and of fossil-fuel investment in particular. It is a step that CalPERS took largely due to the ongoing, cooperative efforts of 350 Bay Area members Linda Rudolph and Gary Horvitz and 350 Sacramento member Martha Turner, working with 350.org and SEIU 1000.

By adopting this language, CalPERS formally acknowledges climate change as a financial risk factor, deliberately building the framework for that reality to be incorporated into risk analysis and financial management of the pension fund.

Here is the specific wording of key sections of the document :

Investment Belief 4: Long-term value creation requires effective management of three forms of capital: financial, physical and human.

Sub-belief: CalPERS may engage investee companies and external managers on their governance and sustainability issues, including: Environmental practices, including but not limited to climate change and natural resource availability.

Investment Belief 9: Risk to CalPERS is multi-faceted and not fully captured through measures such as volatility or tracking error.

Sub-belief: As a long-term investor, CalPERS must consider risk factors, for example climate change and natural resource availability, that emerge slowly over long time periods, but could have a material impact on company or portfolio returns.

The full list of CalPERS investment beliefs can be found here.

Santa Clara Valley Water District Divests

HealthyCreekEcosystem.jpgThe Santa Clara Valley Water District, led by its director Brian Schmidt, unanimously voted to divest from its stock in fossil fuel companies on August 27. The district has a $3 million debt note from Chevron that matures in July 2017. The water district will not invest in fossil fuel companies in the future and will sell the Chevron note before maturity, if it can do so at a profit.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District provides billions of gallons of water to Silicon Valley and is the first water district to divest.

"We are confronting and adapting to climate change impacts on water supply, flood control and watershed restoration, so we shouldn't be funding the same companies that are the cause of these problems," said Schmidt.

Jay Carmona, 350.org divestment coordinator, said she hopes the vote will "set a precedent for other government agencies. It makes zero sense for our public institutions to be investing in companies that are putting the public at risk."

Update 9/19: The district's Board of Directors has sent letters to CalPERS, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, and 15 cities in the county, "requesting that your Agency undertake the same action that our agency has done: immediately cease any new investment in fossil fuel companies, and begin the process of divesting your investment portfolios of fossil fuel companies." The letter continues:  

Climate change has become more real as we have come to experience extreme weather events like Super Storm Sandy that caused significant damage and financial losses to cities and states on the East Coast. As a water agency, the District sees especially clearly the extent to which water supply, flood control, and watershed restoration have been damaged and will be damaged by climate change. In these respects and in many other ways, the residents of California and the public employees who work on their behalf have been adversely affected by climate change. We see no reason to help provide financing for the companies that are most responsible for fighting policies to address climate change.

While fossil fuel companies may provide an attractive return in investment, our local residents and California residents generally will suffer greater economic and financial losses from the impact of unchecked climate change. Our infrastructure, our businesses, and our communities would face greater risk of damages and losses due to that climate change.

California Teachers Association to Consider CalSTRS Divestment

The California Teachers Association holds its quarterly meeting in Los Angeles October 25-27, and several active members will be presenting a resolution to the CTA that CalSTRS divest from fossil fuels. Gary Waayers of SanDiego350.org and Joe Waino, a San Diego Education Association Site Representative, plan to do a presentation of the resolution to the CTA Retirement Committee, with the expectation that it will be referred to the CTA General Assembly for a vote of approval on the 27th.

Gary reports that most of the 760 CTA state representatives have not yet been exposed to the concept of divestment from fossil fuels. It is important to educate as many of them as possible before the meeting—and to get some locals to endorse it.

If you are a member of the CTA, please bring this issue up at your local meeting for endorsement, in preparation for the statewide meeting. For more information, please contact Gary Waayers at gmwaayers@gmail.com.

G.R.O.W. Divestment Meetup on UC Berkeley Campus

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A small but energetic group of divestment campaigners from the Bay Area and around the state attended the G.R.O.W. Meetup held on the UC Berkeley campus on Sunday afternoon, August 4th. The event was a follow-up to Satuday's Summer Heat action in Richmond. G.R.O.W. stands for Gather, Rise, Organize, and Win, and its divestment team has been touring the country in conjunction with 350's Summer Heat rallies to provide trainings focused on coalition-building and forming regional networks for collaboration on fossil fuel divestment and on the broader goals of environmental justice. The organizers brought some of their own valuable experience in collaborating with frontline communities (specifically, their experience as Swarthmore students with Appalachian communities struggling against mountaintop removal). But the training mainly provided a space for all of us to experience looking more deeply at our personal goals and assumptions and discussing how we can better work together and reach out to a broader community.

There's more information about G.R.O.W. at growdivestment.org, and you can see more about the meet up by going to the Fossil Free Cal Facebook page.

Volunteer for the divestment campaign

The CalPERS Campaign has launched!

The CalPERS campaign is gathering steam. The California Public Employees Retirement System is the largest public pension fund in the country, managing $250 billion in assets and investing $12 billion in carbon companies targeted by Go Fossil Free.

JOIN US!

We need you and your great ideas as we launch outreach, communications, letter writing, petitioning, and other actions.

We need:

  • People passionate about divestment
  • Active or retired CalPERS members
  • People with research, organizing, writing, web based campaigning, and web site development skills
  • People knowledgeable about finance or investing

Help us build our network of contacts for the campaign.

If you know or can contact CalPERS members (one or many!), unions that represent CalPERS members, or elected official at the local or state level, we need to hear from you. All contacts help.

Contact: Deborah Silvey, deborah.silvey@gmail.com, 510.333.8513, to volunteer or share contacts helpful to us.

Spread the word!

Divestment at the Peralta Sustainability Fair

The divestment team had a great time at the Peralta Community Colleges sustainability fair at Laney College on April 25. There was a good crowd of students and faculty strolling past the many booths, listening to the live music and sampling delicious foods by local caterers. The sun even came out to shine on our efforts.

We got a lot of traffic at our divestment booth, mainly students but also faculty and other staff. Some professors encouraged students to attend by offering extra credit to those who collected stickers from people at the various booths. This gentle bribery resulted in many nice conversations and we collected over 200 signatures on our Peralta divestment petition.

A big round of applause to Nancy Yates and Deborah Silvey of the Peralta divestment group, who with Robert Silvey put all this together. We also had the invaluable help of Ophir and Victoria, two students from the UC Berkeley divestment campaign, who joined us, grabbed clipboards and went through the fair holding conversations and looking for future leaders of the divestment campaign at Peralta.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Unanimously Pass Resolution Urging Fossil Fuel Divestment

Resolution urges the city’s retirement system to divest over $583 million from the fossil fuel industry

In San Francisco, the divestment campaign was led by 350 Bay Area and the national 350.org campaign and supported by groups including SEIU 1021, SF Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, Center for Biological Diverstiy, and more.

Get the full story

Our divestment goal is the sale of stock and bonds from the
200 top oil, gas, and coal companies.

We are working with colleges, universities, public pension funds, cities, and faith based organizations. We want them to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies and divest within 5 years.

We can help investors understand that, as we make the inevitable transition to a low-carbon world, their fossil fuel investments will plunge. Analysts such as businessman/environmentalist Paul Gilding point out that what was primarily an ecological issue is now an economic one.

In fact, the latest version of the Carbon Tracker report demonstrates that a “carbon bubble” endangers investment portfolios, as fossil fuels become stranded assets.

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We will keep building the pressure through grassroots activism until these companies:

  • Stop exploring for new fossil energy
  • Stop lobbying against the clean energy transition
  • Pledge to keep 80% of their reserves underground

We’re joining students fighting for their future at over 300 campuses around the country.

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Our campaigns

We work with specific organizations for divestment. Our primary campaigns currently are CalPERS (the largest public pension fund in the country, with $11 billion invested in the 200 worst fossil fuel companies), Peralta Community Colleges, and the San Francisco Pension Fund. We're also working with the student divestment campaigns at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State.We're meeting with trustees, researching investment portfolios, writing resolutions and reaching out to student activists.

Other campaigns are in the works—stay tuned.

We need all kinds of help, including but not limited to researching investment portfolios and planning creative street theater. Please join us!

For more information, contact Deborah Silvey.

 

 

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