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California’s Pension, 55th Largest Fossil Fuel Company in the World

By Brett Fleishman, Senior Analyst at, with later edits by Jay Carmona, Community Divestment Campaign Manager - Fossil Free, September 3, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

California is the 8th Largest Economy in the World, And California’s pension fund is the 55th Largest Fossil Fuel Company in the World.

Today, Fossil Free Indexes’ research team published a deep dive analysis on CalPERS’ holdings of the Top 200 coal, oil and gas companies by CO2 emissions potential.

California’s pension fund isn’t really a fossil fuel company, or a company at all; but they currently finance enough coal, oil, and gas reserves to put them well within the top 100 oil and gas reserve holders and also the top 100 coal reserve holders.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) is the nation’s largest pension fund, with a $300 billion portfolio. CalPERS is a leader in the investment world and has a huge impact on the global economy. When it comes to framing the climate crisis and finding solutions through an investment perspective, everyone, including the United Nations, looks to CalPERS for leadership.

On August 16th, Anne Stausboll, CalPERS CEO, published this article describing CalPERS response to climate and carbon risk within their portfolio. Essentially, the CalPERS team is focused on requesting transparency with companies on carbon risk issues (e.g. emissions and stranded assets), it’s called “disclosure.” They have done some fairly significant and progressive work changing the rules so that companies will have to disclose climate risk or carbon output with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) – which is a good thing. With that being said, Ms. Stausboll noted in her article that their efforts have fallen short of the issues, “…the breadth and quality of the disclosures with the SEC are still lacking.”

While CalPERS claims that “Climate change is an important issue for [the pension] System,” it’s useful to ask: what statements are they making with their money?

Fossil Free Indexes found, shockingly, that over the last 10 years, CalPERS has roughly doubled the potential emissions it finances. In 2004, CalPERS held 90 coal, oil, and gas companies on the Top 200 list; today they hold 149. If CalPERS directly held the fossil fuel reserves allocated to its 2013 portfolio it would rank #55 on the top oil and gas reserve holders list and #88 on the top coal reserve holders list.

Chapter 18 - Why the Coal-Miners Should Join Coal-Mine Workers' Industrial Union No 220 of the Industrial Workers of the World

AT THE 1919 convention of the United Mine Workers of America an amendment to their constitution was adopted, which "outlawed" the I. W. W. and all other dual unions. The amendment reads as follows: "Any member of the United Mine Workers of America accepting membership in the Industrial Workers of the World, The Working Class Union, or The One Big Union, or any other dual organization not affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, or membership in the National Chamber of Commerce, shall be expelled from the U. M. W.

Chapter 16 - The Proposed Nationalization of the Coal-Mines

THE LAST two conventions of the United Mine Workers of America (1919-1921) some so-called radical resolutions have been adopted, in favor of recognizing free Russia and free Ireland, the repeal of the espionage law, the release of political prisoners, etc. These resolutions are allowed to pass without much friction, being that they mean so little in fact but such a lot to the "radicals." It is the method adopted, in order to allow the radicals to "blow off steam," so they will not after that interfere with the practical work of the convention.

Chapter 15 - The False Argument of the Operators

THE FALSE and hypocritical argument indulged in by the "operators" of the coal-mines, as well as of other capitalists, is well typified by the argument put up in favor of wage reduction in the report of the Washington State Coal Commission of June 30, 1921. This is written by the government "expert," who incidentally also is president of a coal operators' association.

Chapter 14 - How is the Product of the Coal-Mine Workers Divided?

Rent, Interest, Profit and Wages—The Hours and Days Worked

Chapter 13 - Relative Importance of Union and Non-Union Fields

THE FOLLOWING table was prepared by the U. S. Geological Survey, at the request of the operators. It was compiled for the purpose of ascertaining the strength of the miners' union in the 1919 strike. As will be seen, union coal is 71.6 per cent of the whole, while non-union coal is 28.4 per cent. These figures agree pretty closely with the estimate that about three-fourths of the 800,000 coal miners are organized, while the unorganized would be one-fourth or about 200,000.

Chapter 12 - The International Miners' Federation

THERE is in existence an International Miners' Federation which has, so far, held twenty-five international congresses. The last one was held in Geneva, Switzerland, August 2-6, 1921. The United Mine Workers of America belong to that Federation and were represented by one delegate in Geneva.

Representation at this congress was as follows :

  Number of members

Number of delegates

Chapter 11 - The United Mine Workers of America

THE COMPROMISE effected between the National Progressive Union and Trades Assembly No. 135 of the Knights of Labor at Indianapolis on January 25, 1890, when the United Mine Workers of America was formed, did not awaken the American coal-miners to a sense of national unity. The intelligence of the world's workers had not yet been sufficiently leavened by socialist and syndicalist agitation and education.

Chapter 10 - The Struggle Towards Organization Among the Coal-Mine Workers

NO GREATER MISTAKE could be made than to consider the United Mine Workers of America as an artificial product, gotten together by orders from A. F. of L. headquarters or from United Mine Workers headquarters.


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