Children drenched in fake oil riding atop an oil tanker float, the "Apocalypse," baring the sign "Funded by Teachers' Pensions!" was the focal point of a divestment march that ended at CalSTRS' doorstep.
The Jan. 30 march urging the pension fund to divest from fossil-fuel companies concluded with young people holding signs such as "Engagement is Wedding Us to Extinction," "Don't be a Fossil Fool" and "Big Oil Took Our Childhood," and lying down in front of CalSTRS' headquarters in West Sacramento for a die-in before an investment committee meeting..
The march and die-in were organized by Fossil Free California's youth allies at Earth Guardians, Youth vs. Apocalypse, Sunrise Movement and several other grassroots organizations, said Vanessa Warheit, executive director of Fossil Free California that is advocating for divestment of fossil fuels by investors, including the $254.1 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System and the $401.7 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento.
At the Jan. 30 investment committee meeting, during the public comment period students, teachers and activists urged the fossil-fuel divestment.
"Our house is on fire and you are rewarding the companies that are pouring fuel on the flames," one student told the board.
A University of California, Davis, student told the board that like other people her age she is considering not having a family, fearing children in the future will not have clean air to breathe.
In response, CalSTRS board Vice Chairman Harry M. Keiley pointed to portions of CalSTRS' Green Initiative Task Force annual report that was presented at the same meeting. The report states that "divestment is a last resort action." Instead, CalSTRS' work to persuade companies to reduce carbon emissions and its low-carbon work plan will position the pension plan to be "resilient in a changing world."
During the meeting, the investment committee approved an engagement plan for its sustainable investment and stewardship strategies unit, formerly corporate governance. And the committee adopted a new investment belief establishing climate change as a fundamental consideration in all investment decisions.