Apr 26 2013

HuffPost: San Francisco Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement Takes Its First Steps Against Big Oil

Newswire | Published 26 Apr 2013, 8:37 am | Comments Off on HuffPost: San Francisco Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement Takes Its First Steps Against Big Oil -

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SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday urging managers of the city’s public employee retirement system to withdraw the approximately $580 million they have invested in major fossil fuel producers.

“The Retirement Board can divest responsibly without affecting the fund’s security or yield,” Supervisor John Avalos told the San Francisco Chronicle. “This is a great time to make a statement about how we can hold the fossil fuels companies accountable.”

While the measure is non-binding and the decision of whether to actually divest from “Big Oil” companies ultimately rests with the San Francisco Retirement Board, the resolution’s backers hope it will push the agency in the right direction.

The plan calls for the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System to sell all of its holdings in the 200 largest fossil fuel producers over the next five years and immediately cease acquiring any new investments in those firms.

Among other energy industry investments, the city’s $16 billion pension fund currently holds $112 million in ExxonMobil, $60 million in formerly San Francisco-based Chevron, $26 million in Shell, $17 million in Occidental Petroleum and $11 million in China National Offshore Oil Corporation.

“By divesting out of fossil fuel companies the Retirement Board may produce reduced investment returns as a result,” the resolution acknowledges, “and the Board of Supervisors believes that divesting out of fossil fuel companies is an acceptable tradeoff for all current and retired city employees who are affected by the performance of the Retirement System.”

Norm Nickens, commission secretary for the Retirement Board, told The Huffington Post the city’s retirement system has participated in a number of divestment actions over the past few decades on issues such as tobacco, South African apartheid, Northern Ireland and Sudan.

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