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Hello, World! Introducing the MassDivest Update 
 

MassDivest Update

A publication of DivestOurPensionsNow.org
Edition 1, Sept. 2015 Subscribe

Introducing

We are pleased to introduce the first edition of the MassDivest Update, a publication of DivestOurPensionsNow.org, which will provide critical news on fossil fuel divestment particularly of the Massachusetts Pension Fund. Our readers include Massachusetts Pension Fund stakeholders such as teachers, public employees, public employee unions, and retirees, as well as other supporters and Massachusetts decision-makers.

It is thrilling that divestment campaigns are drawing attention to and stimulating other, inter-related actions to prevent climate disruption! (Along these lines, divestment advocates are urged to come out in force to support the Mass Power Forward energy plan at the State House on 9/29!) We're moved and heartened by the hope underlying Pope Francis' call for urgent climate action and by the prospect of real change. We plan to provide you with local and global news and updates, and action ideas to help move us toward that great transition.


In Solidarity,

The DivestOurPensionsNow.org team
Darcy, Adele, Fran, Micky, Matt, Penny, Lucy, Diane, Alice

 
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Send a letter to your Rep.
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Sign the petition to divest the MA pension fund here.
Sign up for this newsletter here.
Follow us on the web here.
Forward this to your friends, especially MA stakeholders!

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Photo credit: Kate Toomey
Massachusetts News 

MA Pension Fund Lost A Half Billion Dollars by Investing in Fossil Fuel

A new report from Trillium Asset Management found that the Massachusetts Pensions Reserves Investment Trust Fund (PRIT), incurred a massive loss of over a half billion dollars in the last year as a result of investing in fossil fuel companies. In fiscal year 2015, the combined fossil fuel industry investments lost an estimated $521 million dollars in Massachusetts’ public employee’s pension fund. The estimated one-year decline is -28% on its $1.9 billion starting investment in fossil fuel industry stocks.

In the 3 year period ending June 30, 2015 PRIT’s cumulative total return in these industries was an anemic 1%. In the same three year period the broader market, as measured by the S&P 500, gained 61% on a cumulative basis.

The pension fund represents a total of nearly 180,000 members in the state.

The report, which was requested by DivestOurPensionsNow, has enjoyed wide coverage, including:

Last month a similar analysis was conducted of the California pension fund losses, also conducted by Trillium Asset Management, which found a $5 billion loss as a result of investments in fossil fuel companies over a one year period.

This report comes as S.1350/H.2269, bills to divest the pension fund from fossil fuels sponsored by Senator Ben Downing and Representative Marjorie Decker, await a favorable report in the Joint Committee for Public Service. Another bill, H. 2372, sponsored by Representative Aaron Michlewitz and Senator Ben Downing, to create a divestment commission, is likely to be acted on first by that committee. This report creates added impetus for legislators to act quickly.

Boston Teachers Union, Local 66 Supports State Pension Fund Divestment
 

The Boston Teachers Union, Local 66,  has asked the state pension fund to divest from oil, coal, and other fossil fuel companies. The union has about 6,500 active members and 3,500 retirees, according to Richard Stutman, its president.

“If you don’t do something about global warming, our pensions won’t matter, ” Stutman said.

BTU joined other state employee unions and groups, including the Mass Nurses Association, SEIU Local 509, SEIU Local 888, Educators for a Democratic Union caucus of the Mass Teachers Association, the Mass Society of Professors and DivestOurPensionsNow that have all endorsed state pension fund divestment. See the Boston Globe coverage here.

Massachusetts Call to Action
Call/Write Your Rep Now

The fossil fuel divestment bills (S.1350/H.2269, sponsored by Senator Ben Downing and Representative Marjorie Decker, and H.2372, the divestment commission bill, sponsored by Representative Aaron Michlewitz) are currently in a "stuck mode" in the Joint Committee on Public Service and we need your help to get them moving!  Please call your state representative (identify them here, and find how to reach them here) and request him or her to urge Committee Co-Chair James Murphy to report the bills out favorably before the Thanksgiving recess.

In addition, you can cut and paste this sample letter  into an email, or even better, send by snail mail! The purpose of sending regular letters to your legislators is not only to ask them to act but to keep the issue front and center by keeping them updated on the latest developments.

You can check to see if your Representative is on the list of current supporters here.

Sample call script:
Hello, my name is _________.  I am a constituent living in _________.  I am calling to ask the Representative to call his/her colleague, Rep. James Murphy to urge that the Public Service Committee favorably report out H.2269 and H. 2372, the fossil fuel divestment bills. It's not only immoral to be investing in companies that escalate climate change, but it is also financially unwise,  when the fund is losing $10 million each week it stays invested in fossil fuels. Please ask the Representative to urge the committee to move the fossil fuel divestment legislation forward.  Can I count on Representative ______ to take action on my behalf?

Please report your call response here.
And if you haven't signed the divestment petition yourself, please sign it here.
 
DivestAlready! 
Lobby Days
Join us at our monthly lobby days at the State House in Boston to hand out divestment updates, visit your legislators, and if necessary, vigil at the Committee on Public Service Committee door.

What: Monthly DivestAlready! Lobby Day
Where: State House, meet outside Room 156

When: 11 AM, Wednesdays, October 14, November 4, December 2
Sponsored by: DivestOurPensionsNow and the statewide divestment coalition

Knowing the dates in advance gives you the opportunity to set up meetings with your legislators, and to invite other constituents to join you!
Stakeholders: Organize Your Campuses & Endorse  State Divestment

 
Ardent organizing for divestment is taking place on campuses around the state, among undergrads, faculty, staff, and alumni. State colleges, universities and community colleges are getting engaged on two levels-to divest their endowments and to endorse state pension fund divestment. 
 
For instance, UMass Amherst is actively promoting joint action between students, faculty and staff on divestment of their endowment. Their local MTA union of professors and librarians (Massachusetts Society of Professors) has formally endorsed state pension fund divestment and written to pension fund managers with this request.
 
For state colleges, universities and community colleges that have not yet formed or joined divestment campaigns, we are happy to help facilitate. If you need assistance making connections at other colleges, advice about organizing, sample resolutions, or want to get the news out about your actions, contact Adele@divestourpensionsnow.org.

 
Unions:
Add This Blurb to Your Newsletters!

 
As stakeholders in the MA Pension Fund, we have a powerful voice that can give a big boost to the fossil fuel divestment effort. It is time to demand that the pension fund get clean of fossil fuel companies and instead invest in the transition to safe, renewable energy.
 
Coal is collapsing, oil is predicted to be on a long downturn and the pension fund has lost over half billion dollars in the last year - over $10 million a week – because of a failure to divest from fossil fuel companies. Now is the time to act:
 
Call your Rep. and ask him or her to support S.1350/H.2269, the fossil fuel divestment bill, by urging Rep. Murphy* to give the bills a favorable report. Helpful information on how to reach your Rep. is given above.
 
Then ask your friends to do the same. And if you haven't signed the petition to divest the pension fund from fossil fuels, you can sign it here.
 
*(House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service)
World News
Global Fossil Fuel Divestment Exceeds
$2.6 Trillion

Schools, state governments and celebrities are all pulling their money out of coal, oil and gas companies. More than 400 organizations and 2000 individuals with $2.6 trillion in assets, have pledged to divest from fossil fuel companies, according to a new report from Arabella Advisors, a consultancy firm for philanthropies. A year ago, the total amount being divested was $50 billion. Check out this article in Think Progress to see "how the divestment movement has grown 50 fold in just one year". 
California Assembly Passes Bill to Divest From Coal

This month, the California State Assembly voted to divest the state's public pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, from coal. Combined, the funds manage nearly $500 billion, making them the largest public pension funds in the US. This state mandate is expected to spark legislators in other states, such as New York and Massachusetts, to follow suit. The bill now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk, where he has until October 11 to sign. To further explore media hits around this historic vote & campaign look here.
University of
California Divests
from
$200 Million in
Coal and Tar Sands
 

The University of California has sold off $200 million of coal and oil sand investments from its $98 billion investment fund less than a year after initially refusing to do so.

The university’s board of regents chief investment officer Jagdeep Singh Bachner said that a drop in global demand and stricter regulations had now made such investments too risky, reports Reuters.

More News, Reports, Analyses…

New Massachusetts Commitments
City of Lowell

Mass Society of Professors
Boston Teachers Union, Local 66


The MassDivest Newsfeed
Continuously updated news for Massachusetts and other divestment advocates
(Month of September 2015 featured below)


9/25/2015

GoFossilFree: Responding to oil industry funded anti-divestment reports

 

New York Times: Global companies joining climate change efforts

 

Business Green: UK public workers exposed to stranded asset risk

 

Think Progress: The divestment movement has grown 50x in just one year

 

Time: Fossil fuel divestment kicks into over-drive

 

Bloomberg Business: Fossil fuel divestment exceeds $2.6 trillion

 

Boston Magazine: Mass Pension Fund hammered by fossil fuel losses

 

Think Progress: MA Pension Fund loses $10 million/week investing in fossil  fuels

 

California Senate President Kevin DeLeon’s Statement on coal divestment

 

Boston Business Journal: Mass pension fund suffers big loss on fossil fuel, report finds

 

9/21/2015

Blue Mass Group: Pension fund blows $500 million by ignoring collapse of fossil fuel stocks

 

Boston Globe: MA pension fund hit by losses in fossil fuels, group says

  

Financial Times: Plunging oil prices puts question mark on $1.5 trillion in projects

 

9/18/2015

The New Yorker: Bill McKibben - What Exxon knew about climate change

 

Sydney Morning Herald: BHP tells coat miners, losing battle for investors, public support

 

Boston Globe: Boston Teachers Union calls for divestment of pension fund from fossil fuels

 

9/17/2015

BBC News: Shell will not sanction Arctic project until at least 2020

 

9/16/2015

Reuters: Moody’s lowers outlook for oil, gas majors

  

Inside Climate News: Exxon’s own research confirmed fossil fuels’ role in global warming decades ago  (Series Exxon, The Road Not Taken)

 
Think Progress: Prominent climate experts, alumni urge MIT to divest
 

9/15/2015

The Guardian: World largest PR firm ends work with coal and climate change denying clients

 

9/14/2015

Business Vancouver: Goldman Sachs says oil could hit $20/barrel in 2016

 

9/10/2015

Bloomberg Business: University of California sells $200 million in fossil fuel holdings

 

9/9/2015

Masslive: Mass Power Forward statewide energy coalition encourages residents, politicians to promote renewable energy

  

Lowell Sun: Lowell City Council votes to divest from fossil fuels

 

9/6/2015

Financial Times: US shale industry braces for bankruptcies

 

9/3/2015

Ecowatch: Three huge signs that the divestment from fossil fuels campaign is winning

  

Pension Funds Insider: Fossil fuels not the future

  

Clean Technica: “Divest for Paris” challenges leaders to show climate leadership

 

9/2/2015

Reuters: CA coal divestment bill passes the legislature

 

9/1/2015

Responsible Investor: US Supreme Court clears the way for actions against fiduciaries who do no monitor their investments

 

9/2015

Boston Magazine: Harvard, ye hypocrites

  

The Voice of the Retired Public Employee: Fossil fuel divestment takes center stage

 

Principles of Responsible Investment: Fiduciary Duty in the 21st Century
 

 

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