Congress: Stop Fueling Climate Change with Federal Employee Retirement Funds
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Hi, my name is Chris. I’m a federal worker with a government retirement plan (TSP). If I save for retirement by investing in a TSP index fund, I am investing in climate change. The TSP gives me, and the other 5.9 million participants, no choice. This petition asks Congress to require the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to give federal workers a choice and create a new green friendly index fund that is divested of fossil fuel assets.
Investing in a company is like casting a vote that the company will succeed. The money invested helps the company grow by lowering the cost of capital. The TSP has a number of index funds that are invested in a diversified portfolio of companies. Unfortunately, it is estimated that 12 percent of these funds include companies that are major contributors to global warming and climate change: companies that engage in activities like the production of oil, coal and natural gas, or deforestation. Although the exact dollar number is not available, these investments could be as high as 80 billion dollars. Should the federal government be furthering climate change through the retirement investments it offers its workers? Federal workers should have the option to invest in an index fund that replaces fossil fuel assets with green-friendly alternatives.
Human made climate change can be significantly reduced if our government acts now. According to a recent Pew Research poll, 2/3 of Americans believe the federal government is doing too little to fight global warming. The effects of extreme weather events are being felt all over the country and scientists tell us that time is running out. Americans are listening. For example, thanks to a petition like this one, NY State “recently announced that the $225 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund will divest from the riskiest oil and gas companies by 2025 and decarbonize by 2040” and universities and other organizations around the country have followed suit. So must Congress.
Politicians are listening. The Retirement Investments for a Sustainable Economy (RISE) Act of 2019, if enacted, would have given federal employees the ability to divest from the fossil fuel industry by creating an additional green-friendly fund.
“Americans are seeing the growing climate crisis driving catastrophic wildfires, deadly storms and hurricanes, and devastating droughts, and lots of people don’t want to wait around for these risks to grow,” stated Senator Jeff Merkley, who introduced the bill. “If people want to get their money out of the industry driving climate chaos, they should be able to. It’s time for Congress to give millions of federal employees the power to ensure their retirement funds are invested in a less risky and more sustainable, socially responsible portfolio.”
Unfortunately, the RISE bill never made it out of a Senate subcommittee. Recently, a companion bill was introduced in the House which also died in committee. Congress appears to be gridlocked by powerful interests that, in order to increase their bottom lines, deny the source and effects of climate change and pump millions of dollars into lobbying efforts each year to create disinformation and influence votes. Time to break the chokehold. Like your vote, your investments should be your choice.
Sometimes, it’s not all about the money. But, let’s face it, the purpose of a retirement fund is to make money. Federal workers invested in the TSP can rest assured knowing that returns on investments in companies involved in producing clean renewable energy sources are skyrocketing. According to Forbes, “renewable energy investments are delivering massively better returns than fossil fuels in the U.S., the U.K. and Europe.” Some oil and gas companies are taking notice of this potential but the vast majority continue to deny the facts. For example, Total, a former member of the American Petroleum Institute, recently decided not to renew its membership in the powerful oil and gas industry trade group because, among other reasons, it acknowledged that “the link between human activity and climate change is an established fact” and because it supported “policies and initiatives that promote the development of renewable energy”. A report from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission warned that climate chaos could “pose systemic risks to the U.S. financial system”. Even the Pentagon has recently made climate change a national security priority. So, let’s give federal workers the right to vote to grow their retirement accounts, save the U.S. financial system, stand up for established facts, secure the nation and make clean, renewable energy the norm all at the same time. Our future and our children’s futures depend upon it.
Please sign my petition if you agree. Thank you!
PS: please also share this petition with your friends/colleagues and call your representatives. Important: federal workers should not use government equipment to sign this petition or contact a representative.
- Hill aides struggle to shun fossil fuel investments
- New York State Announces Historic Pension Fund Divestment
- U.S. Public Views on Climate and Energy
- Merkley Introduces Legislation to Offer Fossil Fuel Divestment Options for Federal Employees
- Total Withdraws From the American Petroleum Institute
- Just How Good An Investment Is Renewable Energy? New Study Reveals All
- Climate change is now a national security priority for the Pentagon
- Climate Change - As You Sow
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