Piedmonter/Montclarion letters: CalPERS’ fossil fuels divestment would be good step

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Originally posted on Contra Costa Times

PIEDMONT — Many Piedmont residents recognize the threat of global climate change and wish to take more action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. More than 125 residents have already signed a petition to urge the city of Piedmont to divest from fossil fuel investments. Divestment entails sending a letter to CalPERS, the pension fund for city employees, requesting that they divest from fossil fuel investments over the next five years. Divestment carries no financial risk but sends a strong message that greenhouse gas emissions must decrease.

The City Council is strongly committed to mitigating climate change. This commitment has most recently involved its unanimous vote to support the International Compact of Mayors and its mission to reduce greenhouse gases globally. Piedmont also hosts an AmeriCorps Civic-Spark fellow to help the city meet its climate action objectives, such as updating Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan.

At the May 18, 2015 meeting of the City Council the divestment issue was discussed and voted down 3-2, primarily for two reasons: 1) the tradition of abstaining from taking a municipal stance on nonlocal, political issues and 2) a belief that it would be unwise for the City Council to reduce the options that are available to the professional CalPERS fund managers. However, divestment aligns with the recent actions of the City Council. And more than three excellent financial analyses have demonstrated that there is no financial risk for CalPERS from divestment from the largest greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuel companies over the next five years.

SB185 passed by the legislature in the fall required CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest from coal companies. We now request that the City Council urge CalPERS to divest from the other large fossil fuel companies and join in the divestment with seven other Bay Area cities (Berkeley, Brisbane, Fairfax, Oakland, Palo Alto, Richmond and San Francisco) and many more in California and across the country.

At the March 7th City Council meeting we plan to bring the petition to the City Council to request that they send a letter to CalPERS urging divestment. All interested residents, please come. If you are interested in signing this petition, please email me at jwalshorama@gmail.com.

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