Your help needed to ensure pensions are free from risky fossil fuel investments

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MAPE members across the state are continuing to advocate for their pensions to be free of fossil fuel investments and they want your assistance. Members voted overwhelmingly in support of divestment resolutions at the 2016 and 2017 Delegate Assembly meetings.

Colleges, foundations and environmentally-conscious cities worldwide have already agreed to divest from fossil fuels. Public pensions continue to explore the divestment issue and earlier this year, the University of California completed a $1 billion divestment from oil, gas and coal and put the money in clean energy.

MAPE recently signed a petition urging Minnesota’s State Board of Investment (SBI) to divest from fossil fuel investments.

“Fossil fuel investments are too risky and volatile. It’s important to the fiscal health of our pensions that we divest. Climate change is a global emergency and many MAPE members feel they cannot continue to have their pensions invested in an industry that is harming the local, national and global community,” MAPE President Megan Dayton said. 

Individual members may also sign the petition, www.divestinvestmn.org/, asking SBI to begin to divest and invest in sustainable and renewable energy and energy-efficient projects that benefit Minnesota’s economy. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact mapedivest@gmail.com

According to The Financial Times, the number of institutional investors committed to cutting fossil fuel stocks from their portfolios has risen from 180 in 2014 to more than 1,100 now.

Several months ago SBI passed a resolution to divest the State’s public pension funds from companies that make more than 25 percent of their revenue from thermal coal mining.

Reuters has noted that the S&P energy sector is at its lowest in weight in the overall S&P 500 Index in at least a quarter-century. Oil and gas companies represent less than five percent, down from more than 15 percent in 2008.

“The divestment discussion started out at our own local at the MN Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in 2015. We had people who were connected to the broader divest-invest movement. Climate change was not being talked about then as a global emergency as it is now,” said Local 301’s Melissa Wenzel, a principal program administrator at MPCA. Wenzel also serves on MPCA’s Meet and Confer Committee, Membership Team, is a steward and is a former Local 301 president.

“We are seeing fossil fuel investments dropping; when the pandemic hit, barrels of oil were at their lowest price in nearly 20 years. We can’t trust those investments to be financially viable for our pensions. We don’t want people to feel like they have to worry about their pensions in addition to all of the other things they are worrying about these days,” Wenzel added.