San Francisco’s public pension fund decided to forgo divesting from fossil fuel energy companies Wednesday, despite pressure to do so from environmentalists and labor unions.
The Employees Retirement System pension board voted instead to direct a small portion of funds into a portfolio composed of environmentally friendly companies, E&E News reports.
The divestment strategy has followed a number of lawsuits leveled by state and local governments against oil and gas corporations. Several counties and municipalities in California have filed lawsuits, as well as New York City. Each suit is seeking to force oil and gas companies to pay reparations for severe weather and infrastructure advancements to guard against future storms and rising sea levels.
A pension board member suggested in May San Francisco’s pension fund should pull investment in some energy companies. Environmentalists and labor union demonstrated outside of the meeting room Wednesday in support of the motion, however it was never discussed, according to E&E News.
The oil and gas industry celebrated the vote.
“There’s really no other way to spin this thing,” Independent Petroleum Association of America’s Divestment Facts campaign spokeswoman Jill Griffiths said in a statement. “It’s a significant defeat for the pro-divestment crowd and probably an unexpected one given the specific terrain we’re on.”
Environmentalists are not staying down, however, and committed to divestment over the long-term.
“We’d hoped for the outcome of divestment and we didn’t get it, but there’s a pathway, and we’re going to keep fighting,” Climate Parents co-founder Lisa Hoyos told E&E News.
Exxon Mobil, one of the targets of the San Fransisco suit, is counter-suing the city after finding officials’ predictions of the effects of global warming change depending on the circumstance and what is to be gained.
In bond offerings made in 2017, city officials claim they are “unable to predict whether sea-level or rise or other impacts of climate change … will occur.” The city’s lawsuit, however, says the city is in “imminent risk of catastrophic storm surge flooding.”
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