California Senate expected to vote on fossil fuel divestment bill this week

California — Amidst increasing drought and water crisis, wildfires, and tangible impacts of the fossil-fueled climate chaos, this week, the California State Senate will vote on Senate Bill 1173 (Gonzalez), California’s Fossil Fuel Divestment Act, which would require the state’s public pension funds to divest from fossil fuels.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) are the two largest public pension funds in the United States, with an estimated $9 billion invested in fossil fuel companies. If passed, SB 1173 would protect the retirement savings of California’s teachers, firefighters, and other public employees from being used to finance oil, gas, and coal.

An estimated 1,500 institutions representing over $40 trillion in assets have already committed to fossil fuel divestment. SB 1173 seizes the momentum of the worldwide divestment movement to end the contradictory and incongruous policies that position the state of California as a climate leader while simultaneously investing billions into the fossil fuel companies powering the climate crisis. Specifically, SB 1173 would prohibit CalPERS and CalSTRS from investing in the top 200 fossil fuel companies, require that they divest any current investments in those companies by 2030, and require the funds to annually report on their divestment progress beginning in 2024.

“This sorely-needed legislation would put an end to CalPERS’ and CalSTRS’ failed attempts to transform oil, gas, and coal corporations into clean energy companies. These investments have real-world consequences—not only for the firefighters, teachers, and healthcare workers who are counting on their pensions to invest responsibly, but for the people across California who bear the brunt of wildfires and pollution,” said CJ Koepp, Fossil Free California Communications Coordinator.

This vote follows the release of a comprehensive report from Fossil Free California, which revealed that CalPERS and CalSTRS have wildly exaggerated figures to the state legislature on the costs of divestment, including in the numbers reported to the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing for SB 1173 last month.


NOTE TO THE EDITOR: Spokespeople available for interview.