For U.S. public pension funds, divesting from oil, coal, and gas would result in overall higher financial value. That is the key takeaway from a new study examining the past decade’s portfolio performance for several of the largest public pension funds in the country. The analysis by researchers at the University of Waterloo, published today in partnership with the organization Stand.earth, has found that the total cumulative value of six major U.S. public pension funds would have been about 13 percent higher had they divested from fossil fuel holdings ten years ago – equivalent to around $21 million in earnings.
The report focuses on fossil fuel investments in direct contradiction to the health sector leadership’s calls for decarbonizing the health sector, including a well-publicized “Call to Action” by the President of the National Academy of Medicine; to, widespread ‘sustainability’ commitments made across the sector’s 1,200 private hospital systems; and, to the voluminous body of research confirming a range of serious threats to public health from fossil fuel pollution and climate change. Healthcare pensions can and must divest from fossil fuels to protect our health and our frontline communities that are so disproportionately affected by the fossil fuel industry.
On a cool, clear April morning just past 8 a.m., the sprawling corporate campus of the world’s second largest asset manager was suddenly roused from its suburban Philadelphia calm. While about 20 activists broke into song, unfurled banners, stepped into the road and began blockading Vanguard’s entrances, around 80 more stood by in support. The ensuing commotion snarled traffic around the borough of Malvern, eventually slowing the flow of rush hour on Route 202 as drivers craned their necks toward a fleet of beaming police cars. Before most Vanguard employees had fired off their first email of the day, 16 people — aged 22 to 84 — were zip-tied at the wrists and hauled off to Chester County Prison.
From late November through early March of this year, visitors to the University of Washington Career Center in Seattle would have found students sitting in a circle on the floor, some doing homework on laptops as they participated in one of the longest-running recent climate protests at the school. Their goal: to convince the UW administration to establish a policy banning fossil fuel companies from coming to campus to recruit students to work for them. “We’re trying to dismantle the fossil fuel industry’s presence at UW and their hold on the larger American public,” said Brett Anton of Institutional Climate Action, or ICA, the Washington state-based student group that organized the sit-in.
BlackRock security guards and NYPD officers "brutalized" climate campaigners this morning, according to organizers, after activists succeeded in shuttering the entrance to the headquarters of the world's largest fossil fuel investor for three hours. Alice Hu, the senior climate campaigner for New York Communities for Change (NYCC), told Common Dreams that 11 out of 75 activists were arrested after storming the building with pitchforks and pouring fake oil to demand that the asset-management firm stop investing in fossil fuels. The advocacy group posted several videos on Twitter of first BlackRock security and then police officers "roughing up" the activists, including one elderly protester who they say was manhandled by police.
This morning, ten members of Beyond Extreme Energy and 3Third Act occupied a Chase Bank in Washington D.C. The activists sat down in the middle of the bank lobby, singing songs and reading a full indictment of Chase Bank for climate crimes. This action was done as a direct follow up to yesterday’s Rocking Chair Rebellion in which elders blockaded the doors of the same Chase Bank and a Wells Fargo with rocking chairs. The occupation lasted an hour and all ten activists were arrested. “Today we return to indict Chase Bank and its head Jamie Dimon for their role as the number one financier of fossil fuels globally.
A trade association that lobbies on behalf of the largest banks in the United States told regulators that their members’ pledges to reduce investments in carbon-emitting industries are “aspirational,” implying that they shouldn’t be taken seriously by authorities. The Bank Policy Institute made the remarks in public comments on guidelines proposed earlier this year by federal bank regulators, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), on climate-related risk management. Specifically, the lobbying group rejected the notion floated by the agencies that regulations should ensure banks’ greenhouse gas commitments to the public “are consistent with their internal strategies and risk appetite statements.”
After more than two years of pressure from student climate activists at the University of Washington, the University’s Board of Regents passed a resolution to divest the school's endowment, worth more than $6B, from the fossil fuel industry. The resolution, released last Friday, would move investments of around $124 million currently funding fossil fuel projects into "climate solutions." This move would add UW to a long list of public and private universities which have committed to removing investments in fossil fuel projects. “Moves like this are necessary to restore our faith in institutions during a crisis which will define the next several generations,” says Brett Anton.
Anti-science rhetoric and special interests have pushed us to the edge of climate chaos. But just as quantum physics disrupted our view of matter and energy, quantum social change disrupts our beliefs about what’s possible, how fast, and by whom. As the world gasped in wonder at the first images of our infant universe from the James Webb Space Telescope last month, we were reminded that human beings are still capable of acts that elevate us all and advance our collective potential. “[When] my grandchildren … look up at a star, point to it and say ‘there’s life!’ — that’s going to be a moment more profound than the Copernican moment that took Earth out of the center of the universe. It’s going to put an end to cosmic loneliness,” said project team member Natalie Batalha, a planet hunter and astronomer at UC Santa Cruz.
Twelve years ago, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill devastated the Gulf Coast. The spill caused serious health issues in cleanup workers and coastal communities, cost billions of dollars in economic losses and fundamentally disrupted the Gulf of Mexico’s marine ecology. Deepwater Horizon was an awful chapter in the toxic nightmare that oil, gas and petrochemical operations have long imposed on the region and its residents. Though it has widely been known as “Cancer Alley,” the stretch of land along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is now often referred to by residents as “Death Alley.” Instead of attempting to right its horrific legacy, the oil and gas industry is only doubling down. It has plans to build 20 new and expanded export facilities to liquify and ship fracked gas (what the industry calls LNG) in the Gulf Coast.
Banks that fund fossil fuel operations are just as guilty as the fossil fuel companies themselves: that was the message delivered to TD Bank and Bank of America at their branch locations in downtown Northampton, MA, on Saturday morning. Protesters demanded that the two banks “stop the money pipeline” by ending all loans and investments in the fossil fuel business and diverting those resources to the renewable energy sector. Participants funneled bags of cash into a giant model oil pipeline constructed out of cardboard. Pedestrians were invited to share their opinions on the alternative projects that the banks could be funding. Many people stopped to share their proposals for community-owned solar projects, community agriculture, and other programs by posting green dollar bills on a white board entitled “What Future Do You Want to Fund?”
Climate justice advocates celebrated Tuesday in response to insurance giant AIG's announcement that it will no longer invest in or provide insurance coverage for any new Arctic drilling activities nor will it finance or underwrite the construction of any new coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, or tar sands projects, effective immediately. AIG also said that it will immediately stop investing in or underwriting "new operation insurance risks" of coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, or tar sands projects owned by corporations that derive 30% or more of their revenue from those industries or generate over 30% of their energy production from coal.
With over 80 percent of the world’s population experiencing extreme weather linked to climate change, university endowments have become a focal point for students, faculty, and community members eager to snuff out their schools’ support for the fossil fuel companies most responsible for fueling the climate crisis. Major universities, including Boston University, the University of Minnesota, and Harvard University — which boasts the largest endowment of any school in the world — are among the latest to commit to pull billions from fossil fuel funds. In their wake, others are following suit. In July, Maine became the first U.S. state to legally require divestment of public funds from fossil fuel assets.
As climate change accelerates and environmental disasters proliferate around the world, a Big Oil-funded business lobbying group has decided to attack financial firms that are taking their money out of fossil fuel companies, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has learned. This month at the annual States and Nation Policy Summit of the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a pay-to-play organization that brings together corporate lobbyists and mostly Republican state lawmakers to author model legislation, members of the group’s energy task force voted unanimously to approve a new model policy that would prevent financial companies that end investments in oil, gas, and coal companies from receiving state government contracts or managing state funds.
Over the past decade, nearly 1,500 investors and institutions controlling almost $40 trillion in assets have committed to divesting from fossil fuels—a remarkable achievement that climate campaigners applauded Tuesday, while warning that further commitments and action remain crucial. "Amidst a depressing era in the race against climate change—with killer fires and titanic storms, political stalemate, and corporate greenwashing—the fossil fuel divestment movement is a source for tremendous optimism," states a new report—entitled Invest-Divest 2021: A Decade of Progress Toward a Just Climate Future—published Tuesday. "Ten years in, the divestment movement has grown to become a major global influence on energy policy," the publication continues.