Groups launch campaign to divest British Columbia Investment (BCI) Management Corp from fossil fuels

Oil Sands Divestment, along with a coalition of pension plan members and concerned organizations, is calling for BCI to divest all fossil fuels stocks by the end of the 2022 calendar year. In doing so BCI would follow some of the world’s largest pension fund managers, including the Quebec public section pension fund, which have divested from fossil fuels to meet their fiduciary responsibility.

The British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI) is the investment manager for most BC public sector pension funds – managing in total about $153 billion of British Columbians’ retirement savings. This includes the pension funds for BC teachers, municipal workers, nurses, firefighters and many others.

Because it does not disclose all of its investments, the amount BCI has invested in fossil fuels and fossil fuel infrastructure is not easily determined. BCI’s fossil fuel and related investments is at least Canadian $2 billion, and could amount to several billion more.

Like any fund its fiduciary responsibility is its most important contract with its clients. BCI is likely not meeting its fiduciary responsibility to its plan members by continuing to invest in fossil fuels.

The evidence: Corporate Knights conducted a back-test on BCI’s public equity holdings from January 1st 2010 to December 31st 2021 using the S&P Capital IQ database to measure the impact that divestment of all energy stocks would have on the cumulative fund return. The 11 year cumulative return of BCI was 250%; without energy stocks this would have been 297%. This means that by not divesting from fossil fuels in 2010 BCI may have lost a total of $17,876 per active plan member.

Analysis from 16 research and consulting studies, covering thousands of stocks over decades, including by Blackrock and independent academics, overwhelmingly shows that divesting from fossil fuels, and investing in renewables, will benefit portfolios over the longer term. This is particularly important now as fossil fuel investments are increasingly risky and volatile, with increased potential to become stranded assets. And there is consensus that only by stopping fossil fuel extraction as soon as possible do we have a chance of a liveable future without more heat domes, forest fires and floods.

###

Contact: oilsandsdivestment@gmail.com or call Patrick DeRochie at Shift Action for Pension Wealth and Planet Health at 416-576-2701.

Related articles