Vermonters care where their dollars go, and they don’t care to see them go to fossil fuels…At 350VT we’re working to make sure our Vermont dollars don’t support investments in companies that are wrecking the planet.
State Pension Fund Campaign
Vermont’s pension fund is the state’s largest publicly managed fund, with a total value of nearly $3.8 billion. We’ve called on our legislators, the State Treasurer, and the Vermont Pension Investment Committee (VPIC) to put the Vermont’s pension funds on a path towards a low-carbon future, as fossil fuel investments morally corrupt, they are also financially irresponsible! Most of the oil, gas, and coal that companies have is still in the ground, known as “carbon reserves.” If all of the carbon reserves are extracted, sold, and burned, that would be 6x more CO2 emissions than it would take to warm the Earth past 2°C temperature rise. To prevent catastrophic climate change these companies must keep the majority of their carbon reserves in the ground; if their reserves aren’t commercialized, then the company’s stock value will plummet.
1. What is the Vermont State Pension Fund? The pension fund is an approximately $4.1 billion pool of money comprised of 1) The Vermont Municipal Employees’ Retirement System, 2) The The Vermont State Retirement System, and 3) The Vermont State Teachers’ Retirement System. These are the public pension plans provided by the State of Vermont for participating members of those groups.
2. Why make these cahnges to the Pension Fund? Putting Vermont’s pensions on a path to a low-carbon future and away from fossil fuels both insulates us from financial losses and sends a strong message that we reject the business model that fuels climate change. Stockholders in fossil fuel companies will soon be left with stranded assets – underground reserves of coal, oil, and gas that are already on the balance sheets but aren’t yet extracted – and diminishing returns on their investments. The carbon bubble is the projected sum of the losses that our financial sector will face when an estimated $6-28 Billion in reserves are left in the ground. For fossil fuel companies, stranded assets are just money left underground. For the rest of the world, stranded assets mean we have a chance to keep warming below 2°C.
3. Is divesting from fossil fuel companies a breach of fiduciary duty? No, divesting from fossil fuel companies in order to reduce the portfolio’s risk is well within the responsibility of fiduciaries. Failing to consider any risks, such as the risk of stranded assets, is actually a breach of fiduciary responsibility. According to the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration’s Office of Regulations and Interpretations, fiduciaries must “consider the role of the particular investment or investment course of action in the plan’s investment portfolio, taking into account such factors
as diversification, liquidity, and risk/return
characteristics.” If these
requirements are met, “the selection of a ‘socially-responsible’ mutual fund… would not, in itself, be inconsistent with the fiduciary standards set for in sections 403(c) and 404(a)(1) of ERISA.”
VT Defund DAPL
As the Standing Rock Sioux bravely stood their ground in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) they also researched who was funding the project and called for actions of solidarity against those funders. One of those investors has a large presence here in Vermont, TD Bank, which entered into a loan agreement with Energy Transfer Partners to support the project. As winter approached Vermonters mobilized to stand in solidarity with the Water Protectors encamped in North Dakota and coordinated many non-violent direct actions at TD Bank locations. Vermonters have also begun to focus on TD Bank’s contract with the State of Vermont which involves almost 200 million in taxpayer dollars! Do you personally have dollars in TD Bank? Learn more about how you can be an activist with your funds here.
On October 23rd, Vermonters joined actions all over the globe to let banks like TD Bank know we do NOT agree with funding climate disaster. Mazaska Talks called on indigenous people and allies everywhere to join a mass global action that made it clear to the banks: financing climate disaster and the abuse of Indigenous Peoples will result in a massive global divestment movement.
Here in Vermont, groups conducted peaceful, non-violent action aimed at encouraging TD’s customers to close accounts and, ultimately, for TD Bank to divest funding from any fossil fuel projects. There were actions held in Burlington, Brattleboro, Bennington, Montpelier, Barre, and Manchester. You can find a round up of images, press, and media from those actions, here!
Fossil-Free VSC calls upon the Vermont State Colleges System to take concrete steps to align its banking with two of the most compelling moral imperatives of our time – environmental and racial justice. Follow them on facebook for updates and more information! Sign the petition below to get VSC Fossil Free.
Student Climate Culture’s overarching mission is to foster and encourage environmental activism on campus through education, trainings, and a network of support. SCC’s current project is that of fossil fuel divestment, a campaign that has taken off in more than 400 campuses across the country.
The UVM endowment has invested more than $36 million in dirty energy that is destroying our environment. A green, sustainable university cannot afford to have this blemish, nor can we as a society afford to continue inaction on the climate crisis. SCC finds it unacceptable for fossil fuel holdings to be a part of any endowment, and will not stop until UVM divests.You can stay update by liking their facebook page!
Middlebury Sunday Night Group
The Sunday Night Group focuses on environmental problems and awareness on campus, particularly climate activism. Group meetings, held Sunday nights at 9 p.m. in the Château Grand Salon, are open forums for people to share project ideas and enlist help. Everyone is welcome. Follow them on their facebook page for updates!
Here’s what you can do:
Let us know you want to help out by giving us a call at (802) 444-0350 or shooting an email to email@example.com!