Senator Gonzalez and Climate Groups Welcome CalPERS’ Climate Investments Proposal as a Step Forward, But Warn Frameworks Short of Full Divestment Result in Delayed Climate Action
Sacramento, Calif. – Today Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), climate groups, and stakeholders responded to CalPERS’ new climate investments proposal presented during the Board’s November 13th, 2023 Investment Committee meeting. The CALPERS Board, managing the retirement savings of more than two million California workers, announced a proposed plan to increase climate investments by over $50 billion by 2030. CalPERS also shared it will continue with its engagement initiatives aimed at persuading oil and gas companies to embrace the adoption of climate-friendly policies. Furthermore, in a recognition of the ineffectiveness of engagement actions, the proposal indicates CalPERS will craft new guidance to potentially sell off piecemeal investments in companies with no plan to address emissions.
In response, Senator Gonzalez issued the following statement:
“It's encouraging to see CalPERS' take steps to shift away from dangerous fossil fuel investments that jeopardize the financial future of millions of California workers and contribute to the destruction of our planet,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “However, this proposal represents a fragmented approach that is insufficient. Disadvantaged communities across our state that have borne the brunt of fossil fuel pollution, battling every day with high rates of asthma, cancer, birth defects, and chronic illnesses, cannot afford to wait. We have the opportunity, responsibility, and capability to accelerate the transition to a cleaner, more sustainable economy in California now. We simply need to heed the call of the CalPERS members who have already called for divestment, as it's the pivotal solution we need, and the right thing to do.”
Climate groups in strong support of Senate Bill 252, Senator Gonzalez’s fossil fuel divestment bill, and leaders in the fossil fuel divestment movement recognized the importance of increasing climate investments, however, they reiterated concerns for delayed climate action.
“Although CalPERS recently released a proposal to increase their climate investments by over $50 billion by 2030 and continue engagement with fossil fuel companies to adopt more climate-friendly strategies, California Faculty Association members are firm in our strong advocacy for co-sponsored legislation (SB 252) to cease investments in fossil fuel companies and divest from these companies by July 1, 2031,” said Dr. Charles Toombs, President, California Faculty Association. “It is clear that the extraction, processing and use of fossil fuels drastically harms the environment and contributes significantly to devastating climate change. CFA members believe this is an issue of environmental justice, disproportionately impacting Indigenous communities, communities of color, and low-income communities due to historical oppression, inequity of power, and lack of access to resources for prevention and relief.”
“While we welcome and appreciate CalPERS’ newly announced steps toward climate investments, sustainable investing cannot include fossil fuel companies,” said Miriam Eide, Executive Director, Fossil Free California. The fossil fuel companies CalPERS is engaging with, even those with so-called 'net-zero' plans, are moving in the wrong direction, doubling down on fossil fuels and scaling back much-needed renewables. As called for in Senate Bill 252, Californian’s pension holders demand full divestment of CalPERS in the 200 most carbon-intensive fossil fuel companies. As Californians face wildfire destruction, record flooding, and climate chaos, our state pension must stop gambling workers’ hard-earned savings on toxic and risky fossil fuel investments. We will continue to fight for a fossil free California that protects pension funds, workers, and our communities.”
“It's encouraging that CalPERS is prioritizing sustainable investments. However, anything short of divestment is not enough, especially when the impact of continuing to invest in fossil fuel companies disproportionately affects our most vulnerable communities,” said Fatima Iqbal-Zubair, Legislative Affairs Manager, California Environmental Voters. “California has set ambitious goals towards a cleaner, more sustainable future by passing SB 253 and SB 261. Now, the last piece of the puzzle to complete the corporate accountability package is divesting from state pension funds by passing SB 252.”
Senator Gonzalez represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes the City of Long Beach and portions of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles including the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, and South Gate. Senator Gonzalez lives in Long Beach with her family. Website of Senator Lena Gonzalez: www.sen.ca.gov/gonzalez
The California Faculty Association is an anti-racist and social justice union that represents more than 29,000 tenure-line instructional faculty, lecturers, librarians, counselors, and coaches on the 23 campuses of the California State University system, from Cal Poly Humboldt in the north, to San Diego State in the south. They advocate for students, higher education, and faculty rights. Learn more about CFA at calfac.org.
Fossil Free California works to end financial support for climate-damaging fossil fuels and promotes the transition to a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. Our campaigns center on pressuring California's state pensions to divest from fossil fuels.
California Environmental Voters (formerly the California League of Conservation Voters) believes the climate crisis is here and this moment requires transformative change. California has the policy solutions to stop climate change but lacks the political will to do it at the rate and scale that’s necessary. EnviroVoters exists to build the political power to solve the climate crisis, advance justice, and create a roadmap for global action. We organize voters, elect and train candidates, and hold lawmakers accountable for bold policy change. We won’t stop until we have resilient, healthy, thriving communities, and a democracy and economy that is just and sustainable for all.