FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The retirement systems’ failed shareholder engagement efforts with fossil fuel companies has cost their members $11.9 billion in returns
California — A report released today from Fossil Free California reveals that California’s public pensions voted to oppose climate action at major fossil fuel companies and financiers during the 2022 Annual General Meeting season. This exposé comes two weeks ahead of an Assembly Committee hearing on SB 1173, a bill that would require the funds to divest from fossil fuels, that was passed only two weeks ago by the California Senate.
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) are the largest fossil fuel financiers among the top pension funds in the country. While the funds claim to engage with the fossil fuel industry as stakeholders to encourage companies to mitigate climate change, this analysis reveals that CalPERS and CalSTRS voted this year to oppose shareholder proposals at fossil fuel companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cease exploration activity, and transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
“This latest report today shows that CalPERS and CalSTRS misled us—their members—by voting against climate resolutions, despite claiming their engagement with fossil fuel companies will help bring about needed change,” said Charles Toombs, CFA President. “Studies have already shown a failure to divest in fossil fuels in the last decade cost us an estimated $11.9 billion in returns. The systems lost us money and are actively supporting companies opposed to our present and future needs to combat ecological changes and support environmental justice. It’s long past time for lawmakers to do what these retirement pensions cannot: protect our future investments and pass Senate Bill 1173 this year to start the process of divesting from fossil fuels.”
CalPERS and CalSTRS also wildly exaggerated the cost of divestment to the Senate Appropriations Committee last month, claiming figures as high as $100 million when their own consulting firm, Wilshire and Associates, has shown that the transaction cost associated with selling assets is “considered negligible.”
Furthermore, the funds’ highest profile shareholder action—replacing 3 of 12 ExxonMobil board members—changes to Exxon’s board have not resulted in any meaningful progress to address climate change. Despite claiming “successful” engagement by CalSTRS and CalPERS, ExxonMobil, like the fossil fuel and banking industries in general, persists in climate-wrecking behavior which puts California public pensioners at financial and climate risk.
The full report can be found here.
The chart here details NO votes on climate proposals from CalPERS and CalSTRS at five major fossil fuel companies.
NOTE TO THE EDITOR: Spokesperson available for interview.
Contact: CJ Koepp,
Email: [email protected]