The Oakland City Council on June 18 unanimously approved a measure divesting city funds from all investments in any company “whose primary business or enterprise is extraction, production, refining, burning and/or distribution of any fossil fuels.”
The council recommended that city pension funds also divest and urged the California Public Employees Retirement System, one of the nation’s largest managers of public pensions, with $288 billion in retiree assets under management, to follow suit and eliminate fossil fuel companies from their portfolios.
Oakland becomes the fifth city in California to pass a fossil fuel divestment resolution and the 25th city in the nation, joining the ranks of San Francisco, Seattle and Portland.
"I’m thrilled that Oakland City Council took a strong stand to divest from fossil fuels companies that emit heat-trapping greenhouse gases, and to protect our communities by opposing the transport of hazardous fossil fuels by rail through the heart of Oakland,” said Dan Kalb, Oakland city councilmember, and author of the council resolutions. “Divesting from a dirty energy economy will add Oakland's voice to a growing movement that makes it clear that the old way of fueling our economy is not sustainable for our cities and our planet.”
The move is part of a fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement, which has spread to more than 500 campuses, cities, faith communities, labor unions and pension funds around the nation, calling on institutions to take bold action against climate change by aligning investments with a clean and equitable energy future.
So far, 12 colleges and universities, 27 cities, two counties, 30 religious institutions, and 27 foundations in the United States and around the world have pledged to divest or have done so already.
Ophir Bruck, an Oakland resident and organizer with Fossil Free UC — the University of California divestment campaign — said Oakland’s action could embolden the board of regents of the nation’s leading public university to act.
Bruck said, “This move positions Oakland as a climate leader and should encourage the UC Regents, who are exploring the possibility of divesting UC’s $88 billion portfolio from fossil fuels, to stand on the right side of history by divesting for our future.”
Efforts on the measure were spearheaded by 350 Bay Area, a regional group aligned with the international climate change organization 350.org, which supports fossil fuel divestment efforts worldwide via its Go Fossil Free campaign.
Oakland resident and 350 East Bay divestment activist Janet Cox said, “I was really glad to the council take a strong stand in support of the environment and the fight to halt devastating damage to the climate. Governments and NGOs are going to have to act if we're going to survive climate change, and this resolution puts Oakland in the vanguard. Oakland will be able to lead on this critical issue."