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The District of Columbia government announced June 6 that its $6.4 billion pension fund has fully divested from its direct investments in 200 of the world’s most polluting fossil fuel companies.
In doing so, Washington, D.C., has taken a critical step toward addressing climate change, joining the more than 500 cities, philanthropic organizations, faith groups, universities and other organizations that have divested funds worth a collective $3.4 trillion.
The decision by the District of Columbia Retirement Board to sell off its fossil fuel investments underscores D.C.’s commitment to protecting environmental quality and ensuring that generations of Washingtonians will inherit a safe and stable climate.
It also marks a victory for DC Divest, the citizens group that led a three-year campaign aimed at promoting divestment in the District of Columbia. “Time is up for the powers that be to act on climate change. If we’re going to take real action on climate change, we must take a hard stance against the fossil fuel industry,” said DC Divest spokesman Matt Grason. “By divesting from fossil fuels, the nation’s capital has taken a critical step in creating the political will for climate action. Now it’s time for Congress to take note and pass comprehensive legislation to limit the carbon pollution driving climate change.”
“I applaud the D.C Retirement Board for doing right by all Washingtonians,” said D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen. “In the past, divestment has proven to be an incredibly powerful tool for effecting positive change. By divesting from fossil fuels D.C. has helped pave the way for a brighter, better future.”
D.C.’s decision to divest from fossil fuels is the latest action the nation’s capital has taken to promote sustainability and protect the health of its residents from climate change impacts.
The district also adopted the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and Mayor Muriel Bowser recently signed a 20-year agreement that will supply 35 percent of the district government’s electricity with wind power and save residents $45 million over the next 20 years.
“Climate change is a life or death issue here in the District of Columbia, and it disproportionately harms low income families and communities of color,” said the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus. “We can’t afford to wait any longer. The decision to divest from fossil fuels is an incredible act of leadership that came just in time.”
“The decision to divest shows that D.C. takes seriously its responsibility to protect pensioners from risky fossil fuel investments,” said Jesse White, a District of Columbia Public Schools teacher and DCRB beneficiary. “As the U.S. continues to transition to a clean energy economy, our investments must follow suit.”
On June 7, the Council of the District of Columbia will formally vote on a ceremonial resolution lauding the board for removing all direct investments in fossil fuels.
The resolution is set be introduced by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmembers Charles Allen and David Grosso.