In fact, we changed our name to Divestment/Reinvestment several months ago. We still work on divestment–currently we are engaged with the Cities of Portland and Milwaukie, Lewis & Clark College and Catlin Gabel School, among others, and have a new campaign to divest PERS, the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System–but a lot of our energy and interest has turned to reinvestment, especially Community Solar.
This summer saw great advancement in the divestment of Washington and Oregon foundations.
In June the McKenzie River Gathering Foundation (MRG) made the fossil fuel divestment pledge at the request our the 350PDX Divestment – Reinvestment Team. MRG is now fully divested.
MRG said, “The Board of Directors committed to keeping our investments fossil free. They reaffirmed our longstanding commitment to having our investment philosophy match our values. This will keep over 2 million dollars out of fossil fuel investments.” Read more
We are thrilled to announce that Metro has made the fossil fuel divestment commitment! And their investments are already clean! Way to go Metro!
This victory completes the trio of Portland-area governments on the divestment list!
A lot of credit for Metro passing their divestment resolution on July 28th goes to Councilors Bob Stacey and Sam Chase who were the champions of the resolution on the Metro Council. But there were other who were crucial as well. Linda Craig of the 350PDX Divestment/Reinvestment Team kept in touch with Stacey and Chase and made sure the resolution happened. Bryan Brumley, another team member (and also a certified financial planner) whose testimony about how poor fossil fuel company investments have become was what convinced Metro President Tom Hughes to vote yes. Our Team likes to talk about the political reasons for divesting (they’ve committed to sustainability) and moral (they should get their investments in line with their values) but it was the financial argument that counted with Hughes. Read more
On June 23rd an enthusiastic group of PERS members who want to ensure their retirement doesn’t come at the expense of a livable future met for the first time as the new (tentatively named) Divest PERS Team at the Friends Meeting House.
Sandy Polishuk and David Kennedy reported on the history of divestment legislation in Oregon – only two times has the legislature passed bills requiring divestment of PERS investments: Oregon Anti-Apartheid Act of 1987 (divesting from South Africa and Namibia) and Oregon Human Rights and Anti-Genocide Act of 2005 (divesting from Sudan). Neither is in force any longer.
Bryan Brumley, a member of the 350PDX Divestment Team and a certified financial advisor specializing in sustainable, responsible and impact investing, shared his research on the PERS portfolio: it’s different types of investments, the opacity of the actual holdings, and the obstacles to and benefits of divesting. There was discussion of stranded assets and other reasons that fossil fuel companies are becoming worse and worse investments. Read more
The divestment movement is an increasingly important element in the fight against global climate change. Making the personal choice to divest shows commitment to challenging and changing the system that rewards corporations for destroying our planet. 350.org and 350PDX are both working actively to encourage universities, municipalities, foundations, and now individuals, to divest. It may seem like a small stone against the Goliath fossil fuel industry, but each little nugget can become a hail storm they won’t forget.
Last month, over a hundred climate activists, religious leaders, and community members kicked off a week of action in front of U.S. Bank headquarters in downtown Minneapolis, to call on the bank to stop toxic practices that harm our climate and communities. We’re still waiting for an answer.
U.S. Bank claims to take climate change seriously, yet they continue to provide billions of dollars in financing to the fossil fuel industry (including extensive financing for Enbridge Energy, the company behind the Alberta Clipper “secret Keystone” tar sands pipeline).
Thank you for all you do for us, taking care of us. You educate us and our children, run our cities, counties and state, fix our roads, put out our fires, show up in emergencies and so much more furthering the public good.
When you retire the State of Oregon has a promise to help take care of you. For most of you we do it with PERS, the Public Employees Retirement System.
The trouble is PERS investments are not in line with the public’s values of a livable climate, a crucial requirement to insuring the public good. Climate scientists agree we need to keep the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves in the ground and transition to renewable energy to keep below the 2°Celsius goal of global warming. But the fossil fuel industry is doing just the opposite–they are mining, pumping and fracking as fast as they can.
Fossil fuel divestment takes the fossil fuel industry to task for its culpability in the climate crisis. By naming this industry’s singularly destructive influence–and by highlighting the moral dimensions of climate change–we hope that the fossil fuel divestment movement can help break the hold that the fossil fuel industry has on our economy and our governments.
In September Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation requiring its PERS and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System to sell its holdings in coal-producing companies. In contrast, the Oregon Investment Council (OIC) just approved a multimillion dollar investment they know will be partly going into building a coal plant!
If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. Organizations that serve the public good should divest from fossil fuels.
Ironically, as the world wakes up to the fossil fuel-free future we need, fossil fuel investments are becoming increasingly risky, so divesting would be a sound financial decision as well.
The time has come for Oregon PERS members–working and retired–to speak up and speak out. We want to help facilitate a campaign to tell the OIC to get on board . Step one is signing up so wecan keep you informed.
350PDX will contact you to help you decide what course of action and level of involvement is right for you. Those of you who want to help plan the campaign can unite to choose the best way to get PERS divested–it could be anything from petitions, letters to the editor, lobbying the state legislature and/or the OIC, or more– whatever it is, we want to assist you on this important campaign.
Thanks again public workers; let’s work together to do even more good!
Have a great 2016
The 350PDX Divestment/Reinvestment Team
September 24th was a big day for Portland, as both Multnomah County and the City of Portland voted to divest from the Carbon Tracker 200, the top 200 companies still maintaining reserves and drilling for fossil fuels around the world. Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury introduced the divestment section of the morning meeting by noting that, “Where we invest our dollars is a reflection of our values” and noted how crucial it is that reserves stay in the ground if we are to combat global climate change. She thanked 350PDX and especially Sandy Polishuk for two years of advocacy on this issue.
Thursday, September 24 is a Red-Letter Day: that’s the day both the Multnomah County Commission and the Portland City Council are scheduled to vote on divestment resolutions–the County in the morning and the City in the afternoon.
Please join us at these meetings for this significant victory! We’ll have some mini-banners available (large signs are not allowed). Wear orange, the divestment color, to show your support for divest.
The Corvallis chapter of 350.org had a huge win last month as the Corvallis City Council passed multiple policies in favor of divestment. Read more