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Youth Versus Apocalypse

'Moral Failure': California Dem Pulls Plug on Fossil Fuel Divestment Legislation

By Brett Wilkins - Common Dreams, June 21, 2022

"This defeat is just a temporary setback," said one campaigner. "We will organize to come back stronger to make our demand for fossil fuel divestment heard because fossil fuel companies are driving us toward unimaginable disaster."

Climate, environmental, and social justice advocates on Tuesday condemned the decision by a Democratic California lawmaker to kill proposed legislation that would require two of the state's leading pension funds to divest from the fossil fuel industry. 

"Today amidst a historic mega-drought, wildfires, and fossil-fueled public health crises, Assemblymember Jim Cooper, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Public Employment and Retirement, refused to allow Senate Bill 1173, California's Fossil Fuel Divestment Act, to be heard in his committee," Fossil Free California said in a statement. "This one-man veto allows the state's pensions to continue to invest billions from public funds into the fossil fuel industry, for now."

S.B. 1173 would have prohibited the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS)—the two largest public pension funds in the United States—from making or renewing investments in fossil fuel companies. The measure would also have required the pensions to liquidate their fossil fuel holdings by 2030. The two funds currently hold an estimated $9 billion in fossil fuel investments.

"This decision is a moral failure that disproportionately impacts young people, Indigenous communities, communities of color, and low-income communities," the coalition asserted. "Climate chaos has already cost California billions in damages and health costs from fossil fuel pollution and climate disasters. Jim Cooper, who has just been elected Sacramento County Sheriff, has reported $36,350 in Big Oil campaign contributions from this election season alone."

State Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-33) said in a statement that "while I am deeply disappointed that my Senate Bill 1173 was not set for a hearing in the Assembly Committee on Public Employment and Retirement this week, I remain committed to the necessary and ongoing fight against the impacts of climate change on our state, and especially those communities in my district that are disproportionately impacted by the negative effects of the climate crisis."

"Teachers and state employees whose retirement futures are invested by our state's pension funds have long demanded that CalPERS and CalSTRS cease investing their money in fossil fuel companies, and this demand will only grow stronger and louder," she continued.

Youth vs Apocalypse: #UPROOTtheSYSTEM

Students demand that teacher pension fund revoke fossil fuel investments

By Garrett Leahy - 48 Hills, August 29, 2021

More than 500 Bay Area high school students gathered outside the San Francisco Federal Building on 7th Street Friday before marching down Market Street to City Hall, calling on the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the state’s pension fund for California public school teachers, to divest its investment holdings in fossil fuel companies.

They pointed out that that California’s wildfires demonstrate the need to reduce emissions.

“This climate strike has been going on for years, but we’re feeling the effects of climate change,” said Anya Draves, a senior at Berkeley High School and President and Co-Founder of the Berkeley High Zero Waste Club. “With the wildfires, the red skies, the smoke…we’re the ones who are going to be living on this earth for years to come we have the energy and the voices to fight back.”

Draves was not alone in her concern about the future of the planet as the brunt of the effects of climate change begin to unfold.

Aniya Butler, a Sophomore at Oakland Charter High School and Hip Hop and Climate Justice Coordinator with Youth vs Apocaylpse, a youth-led group calling on governments and corporations to take dramatic action against climate change, expressed the importance for student action to pressure CalSTRS to divest from fossil fuel companies, saying that following reports that effects of climate change now may be, in part, irreversible, young people must put pressure on corporations, hedge funds, and other wealthy and powerful entities to invest in sustainable industries.

“After the IPCC report came out, I feel like people are opening their eyes, like ‘okay’ this crisis is real and now we have to do something about it,” said Butler. “The youth are the future, and the climate crisis is something that will affect our future. We have to recognize that if we want to live in a future where we can thrive, where we can breathe, we are going to have to be the ones out here organizing actions, calling out the government, and calling on these corporations to divest from destruction and invest in our future.”

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