Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill into law late last week that forces two of the largest public pension funds in the U.S.—CalPERS and CalSTRS— to divest from any company with profits primarily related to the mining or use of coal. EcoWatch:
The new law will affect $58 million held by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and $6.7 million in the California State Teachers Retirement System, a tiny fraction of their overall investments. The funds are responsible for providing benefits to more than 2.5 million current and retired employees.
De León pitched the measure as a way to emphasize more secure, environmentally friendly investments.
“Coal is a losing bet for California retirees and it’s also incredibly harmful to our health and the health of our environment,” he said in a statement.
In response to the news, executive director of 350.org May Boeve, whose group has led the charge for institutional divestment, championed the effort in California.
“This is a big win for our movement, and demonstrates the growing strength of divestment campaigCalPERS and CalSTRSners around the world,” said Boeve. “California’s step today gives us major momentum, and ramps up pressure on state and local leaders in New York, Massachusetts, and across the U.S. to follow suit—and begin pulling their money out of climate destruction too.”
This will make zero, repeat zero, difference to carbon emissions. But it will make it just a little bit harder for California’s rickety, beleaguered pension funds to meet the ambitious targets that alone can save the state from making a gut-wrenching choice between cutting senior pensions and cutting services to needy citizens down the road.
Nice job, Governor. Nice job, greens.