January 23, 2018

Pressure Ramps Up on San Francisco Ahead of Pension Divestment Vote

Heads of Major National and Local Environmental Organizations  Release Letter Urging Board to Divest

San Francisco, CA — Ahead of the long awaited vote this Wednesday from the San Francisco Retirement Board on divesting its pension fund from fossil fuel companies, over a dozen leaders from the country’s top climate and environmental organizations signed a letter urging the Board to follow New York City’s lead and take a bold step forward by divesting.

The letter, signed by organizations such as the Sierra Club, 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, Environment California, and more, states that the risks associated with fossil fuel investments are now far beyond what a prudent pension system should sustain, emphasizing that carbon embedded in existing fossil fuel production will take us far beyond safe climate limits.

“This is a definitive moment for San Francisco in the fight for a fossil free world. As the city prepares to host a climate convening of the world’s local electeds this September, it’s time to put their money where their mouth is,” said May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org. “Tackling the climate crisis means cities everywhere must stand up to fossil fuel elites, specifically when federal politicians are slow to act. By divesting their more than $20 billion pension fund from fossil fuels, the City by the Bay will show Big Oil billionaires and communities around the globe that they’re serious about real climate action.”

Since the campaign launch six years ago, the fossil fuel divestment movement has succeeded in securing commitments from over 800 institutions in over 77 countries representing more than $6 trillion in assets.

In San Francisco, it’s been a long path to this week’s vote. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to endorse fossil fuel divestment in April 2013. Last December, hours before he passed away, Mayor Ed Lee published a piece in Medium endorsing divestment, writing, “By taking the bold step to divest from fossil fuel assets, we are once again taking a strong stand on the essential issue of the environment.”

Meanwhile, many Bay Area institutions have been at the forefront of the divestment campaign. San Francisco State University became the first community college district in the nation to divest from fossil fuels. In the South Bay, the Santa Clara Valley Water District became the first such entity to make a commitment, while Stanford University made an early commitment to divest from coal in 2014.

Divestment has proved an effective tool to help stigmatize the fossil fuel industry and increase investor worries that as the world moves towards renewable energy, coal, oil and gas reserves could become “stranded assets” and drive down the share price of fossil fuel companies. A report from the University of Michigan concluded that the divestment campaign has successfully shifted the conversation around fossil fuels and institutional responsibility to act on climate.

On January 24, San Francisco has the opportunity to spark the domino effect and make divestment an inevitability for all major cities in the U.S.


To view this statement online, visit: https://350.org/press-release/sf-divestment-pressure-ramps/

Press Contacts:

Thanu Yakupitiyage, U.S. Communications Manager, 350.org, +1-413-687-5160; thanu@350.org

Dani Heffernan. U.S. Communications Coordinator, 350.org, +1-305-992-1544; dani@350.org