San Francisco’s board of supervisors unanimously passed a resolution to divest $583 million from the fossil fuel industry. The resolution will move funds from the San Francisco Employee Retirement System (SFERS), which currently invests in 91 out of 200 fossil fuel corporations, and will deliver a huge blow to companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell Oil. After an extensive campaign led by 350.org that has spread to over 100 cities and 300 college campuses across the United States, San Francisco’s board of supervisors has voted to make their city the third, after Ithaca and Seattle, to stop funding the fossil fuel industry once and for all.
“San Francisco’s commitment is a big victory for the burgeoning fossil fuel divestment movement,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org – one of the organizations behind the Go Fossil Free campaign. “The Bay Area will spend billions adapting to climate change–it makes no sense at all to simultaneously invest in the corporations making that work necessary.”
A new report unveiled by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission shows that a 55 inch sea level rise by the close of the century will force the Bay Area to spend $62 billion in shoreline development and another $14 billion in static structures to protect California’s shoreline, according to a recent 350.org press release. And an HSBC report shows that maintaining investments in the fossil fuel industry now comes with considerable risk. If international commitments to keep temperatures below the agreed upon 2°C target are kept, fossil fuel corporations could suffer losses of up to 60 percent.
By contrast, writes 350.org, a report from Aperio Group, a group of Marin financial advisors, shows that fossil fuel divestment would increase portfolio risk by roughly 0.01%. Patrick Geddes, the lead author of the report, told reporters on a recent webinar that, “Statistically, it’s basically noise.”
It’s now up to the SFERS board to decide whether to divest $583 million of its $16 billion pension fund for active and retired employees of the City and County of San Francisco. If the request goes through, this will be the largest such divestment in the United States and a significant win for the environment.
Lead image courtesy of 350.org