California Senate passes fossil fuel divestment bill

California communities celebrate growing momentum around pension divestment

California — Today amidst increasing drought and water crisis, wildfires, and tangible impacts of the fossil-fueled climate chaos, the California State Senate passed Senate Bill 1173 (Gonzalez and Wiener), 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 by the Assembly, 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.

“It’s critical that SB 1173 passes through the Assembly to 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.

CalPERS and CalSTRS members have campaigned for their pensions to divest for nearly a decade. Since the bill was introduced in February with the support of 127 unions, coalitions, and organizations, Californians have made thousands of calls, written over 17,000 letters, and organized dozens of meetings with legislators to advocate for SB 1173.

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.

“I’m glad that this bill passed, and hope it can pass through the Assembly. We have spent so many hours, skipping homework or hanging with friends, to work on this bill over the years. However, this win is nowhere near enough, and I hope that it can be a catalyst for the intense climate action that we absolutely need to have a livable planet,” said Raven Fonseca Jensen, 18-year-old climate activist with Youth vs. Apocalypse.

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.


“If passed by the Assembly and signed into law, this bill will be a victory for the global movement to revoke the social license of the fossil fuel industry. No one wants their life savings used to make life on Earth harder,” said Bill McKibben, Founder, Third Act.

“This is a powerful win for the divestment movement and California is an example of how grassroots people power enacts change,” said Amy Gray, Climate Finance Senior Strategist. “This sets a national precedent with global ripple effects that fossil fuel divestment legislation is a powerful tool in addressing the climate crisis head on.”

“As nurses, we see the health consequences from the effects of pollution created by fossil fuels. We deal with the human fallout of climate injustice. Enough is enough. We must hold our local, state, national, and world elected officials accountable for passing and enforcing laws, policies, and regulations that will help reverse climate change,” said Zenei Triunfo-Cortez RN, Co-President of California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.

“It’s time for us to hold oil, gas, and coal companies accountable for putting profits above all life on Earth. That means it’s time for CalPERS and CalSTRS to stop pretending that the fossil fuel industry is on our side and divest from the corporations that are literally killing us,” said 19-year-old Sim Bilal, Logistics Lead, Youth Climate Strike LA.

“It’s past time that California public agencies stop investing money in fossil fuel companies,” said Brandon Dawson, director of Sierra Club California. “SB 1173 is a major step towards the necessary goal of total state divestment from fossil fuels. We must continue to hold these polluting industries responsible for their role in harming California’s air quality, environment, and communities.”

“CFA thanks State Senators Lena Gonzalez and Scott Weiner for authoring Senate Bill 1173, and commends the senators who supported this important legislation to divest the retirement savings of educators, healthcare workers, and public employees from financing the fossil fuel industry and the resulting public health crisis, environmental racism, and the destruction of our biosphere. We look forward to working with the Assembly to pass SB 1173 and Governor Newsom to sign SB 1173 into law. Also, CFA is grateful to the more than 80 organizations that seized the momentum of the worldwide divestment movement and continue the bold and progressive actions that California must take to address climate change,” said Dr. Charles Toombs, CFA President and Professor of Africana Studies at San Diego State University.

“I am proud to be a Californian today. I am proud to be a pediatrician. This bill is a bill that addresses climate change as a health emergency, and divesting from fossil fuels is part of the answer to averting the worse health effects caused by climate change,” said Vi Thuy Nguyen M.D., Chair of State Government Affairs Committee on Environmental Health and Climate Change, American Academy of Pediatrics California.

“This is a great step in the right direction. State pension funds should be invested in the future of the state, not in a dark and deadly fossil fuel past, for our health of our communities and our climate.” said Ellie Cohen, CEO, The Climate Center

“As a former mayor who divested my community, a member of CALPERS, and a mother, I am so proud of the California Legislature today. Divesting from toxic fossil fuels is the right fiscal and moral thing to do. A pension is an investment in the future. Investment in the fossil fuel industry is an investment in our demise,” said Heidi Harmon, Senior Public Affairs Director of Let’s Green CA! & Former Mayor of San Luis Obispo.


Contacts: Miriam Eide, Fossil Free California,

Carolyn Norr, Youth vs. Apocalypse,

NOTE TO THE EDITOR: Spokespeople available for interview.