As energy prices continue to soar, some energy companies are expected to feel the symbolic move of an American teachers’ union demanding its retirement fund be divested away from coal, oil, and gas investments.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has voted for a resolution urging the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA)–which manages retirement funds for education sector workers–to immediately divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in green energy sources.
The resolution identifies “an estimated US$255 billion is invested in fossil fuel corporations” out of the roughly US$5.8 trillion fund composed of public and private pension plans by AFT members.
“AFT will urge the board of TIAA to divest the retirement funds of higher education members… from all corporations or other entities that extract, transport, trade or otherwise contribute to the production of coal, oil, and gas,” the resolution read.
The union voted for the resolution by its 3,000 members present for the meeting and representing 1.7 million of the union’s membership.
“This is a huge step. In one of the hottest weeks ever measured on planet earth, educators are seizing a teachable moment to say: stop investing in climate chaos, and instead build the kind of world we want our students to grow old in,” said climate expert Bill McKibben.
AFT’s David Hughes, one of the 12 co-sponsors of the resolution, said that the vote is “a forceful statement and a major climate solution.”
“These workers are taking control of their assets, withdrawing the social license of the fossil fuel industry, and seeking to reinvest that money in sustainable jobs,” Hughes added.
Should it be heeded by the investment firm and create a ripple effect among other investors, the resolution could set a precedent in pulling out investment support on the fossil fuels industry. The move would magnify the effect in the current economic climate where the energy supply currently hangs in the balance.
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