Avalos to call on SF retirement system to divest from fossil fuels

Photo by Cherrylynx via Flickr

San Francisco’s city pension fund may have as much as $1 billion tied up in companies that control fossil fuel reserves, such as Exxon, BP, Shell and Chevron. At the Board of Supervisor’s meeting this afternoon, Sup. John Avalos plans to introduce a resolution calling on the San Francisco Employees Retirement System (SFERS) to divest from leading fossil fuel giants. 

The resolution, which urges the San Francisco Retirement Board to stop investing in stocks and and mutual funds with shares in coal, oil and gas companies, was created with input from nationwide environmental organization 350.org. Last year, 350.org launched a campaign calling on universities to divest from 200 targeted fossil fuel companies as a way to tackle global climate change.

“They’re the companies that own the vast majority of the world’s fossil fuel reserves – who actually own the carbon that’s sitting in the ground,” explains Jamie Henn, cofounder and communications director of 350.org. When these fossil fuel reserves are extracted and burned to generate power, they'll emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, worsening the impact of global climate change.

Scientists have calculated that from here on out, a total of 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide can be emitted into the atmosphere before the planet’s global average temperature increases by two degrees Celsius. Despite widespread international consensus that crossing this threshold would bring unacceptable consequences, says Henn, the 200 targeted companies can access enough oil and gas reserves to eventually emit five times as much CO2 into the atmosphere.

“Their share prices are based on their ability to burn those reserves,” Henn said. “The only way we can tackle climate change in this country is if we weaken the fossil fuel industry.”

To that end, Avalos is acting locally.

“San Francisco has aggressive goals to address climate change,” the District 11 supervisor noted. “It’s important that we apply these same values when we decide how to invest our funds, so we can limit our financial contributions to fossil fuels and instead promote renewable alternatives.”

Supervisors do not have control over the investment decisions of the San Francisco Retirement Board, which controls the city's $16 billion pension fund, so Avalos' resolution would not impose a legal obligation to divest. Yet a Budget & Finance Committee hearing about the proposed resolution could help raise awareness of the issue, noted Jeremy Pollock, a legislative aide to Avalos. The idea is to start a conversation about “what our social investment policy is, with regard to retirement funding,”  he explained.

If Avalos' resolution to divest in fossil fuels is ultimately approved by the full board, San Francisco would become the second city in the nation to take such a step. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn called on city retirement funds to abandon stocks in coal, oil and gas companies last December.

In addition to the resolution calling for divestment from fossil fuels, Avalos also plans to introduce a resolution urging the San Francisco Retirement Board to divest from publicly traded manufacturers of firearms and ammunition.


underfunded to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. Why try and solve that problem when, in fact, there is no solution ultimately anyway other than laying off thousands, cutting services and possibly defaulting on the payment of pensions.

No, how much easy to make a futile, pointless gesture like not investing in a major industry sector that is currently one of the US's boom industries.

And if those investments are stopped, what next? Tobacco companies? Defence? I'd be willing to bet that most companies in the S&P 500 probably irk a rabid leftie like Avalos in one way or another.

Stopping investments in major earners like Exxon and Chevron will simply make it even harder for the pension fund to meet it's commitments. But then it is so unlikely to ever do that anyway, that perhaps it doesn't really matter? Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.

But Avalos should leave investment decisions to the experts.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

symbolic, meaningless gestures like this and renaming the airport. While the left capitulates on every important issue.

Avalos and Campos are reduced to spinning their wheels. Their power has evaporated since their buddies Daly and Ross abandoned relevance.

Posted by anon on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

Renaming the airport is the perfect gesture at a time when the need for hopefullness is great; and this clearly disturbs and puts into disarray the "moderates" who cater to right-wing sensibilities to form their agenda.

"anon" -- what a real piece of work.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

Daly and Peskin from 10 years ago ran circles around the current supes in advancing the progressive agenda, AND they did feel good stuff like too.

We should rename SFO to Milk, or perhaps swap out Moscone for Milk at the Convention Center and the airport.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

stain in his pants but is really just serves as a diversion from the real, tangible and irreversible losses that progressives no suffer as a routine things.

Avalos and Campos are carrying the torch, but they are ineffectual and rank amateurs, politically.

The left in SF have been co-opted, finessed and neutered.

Posted by anon on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

Talk about ineffectual and rank amateurs! You can hardly express yourself.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 4:09 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

useless supervisors. Renaming airports and recommending divestment while the pension fund's obligations threaten to bankrupt this city in the future. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

Have you forgotten how many rounds it took Lee to hit the 50% mark? With low voter turnout too, he should have picked up more votes from the "mods"/conservatives. He just barely squeaked out a victory.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

And he'd lose again if he won. He's relegated to crap like this, which is just his attempt to keep his name in the news.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 4:34 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

Lee got nowhere near 50% more votes than Avalos. More like 19%. Lee picked up only 31% of the vote in the first round. Hardly a landslide.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

Avalos because that runoff split 60/40.

60 is 50% more than 40.

Geddit now?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

a bit of remedial math would do you good.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 1:48 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

Why you people keep going back to this?

1 2 3 4 5 6
Ed Lee 59,775 59,796 59,822 59,899 60,610 61,747
John Avalos 37,445 37,472 37,481 37,497 38,871 39,320

7 8 9 10 11 2
Lee 63,495 65,142 67,542 71,133 78,615 84,457
Avalos 39,524 41,035 42,877 45,505 48,638 57,160

Posted by matlock on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

Either the election was bought, or there was voter fraud, or it was very close, or the voters were lied to, or . .

It never occurs to lefties that their policies quite simply are not popular enough.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

And came up smelling like a rose because Avalos did much better than expected by beating everyone else in the running. So that's what's got your knickers in a bunch, pumpkin?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 1:40 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

I would really like to know how Avalos avoids dealing with these awful fossil fuel companies that need to be punished. Does he walk or ride a bike everywhere he goes? Does he never ride Muni?

Does he power his home entirely through non-fossil sources?

Just curious...because if he uses fossil fuels in his own life but wants to punish the companies that supply them then he is quite the hypocrite, even by Progressive standards.

Posted by Troll on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

the energy under CleanPowerSF?
So Avalos is ok with that, but not ok with the pensions investing in Shell?

Isn't there a disconnect here? Am I missing something?

Posted by guestD on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

I guess Avalos didn't think of that.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

Avalos approved guaranteeing $19Million to Dutch Shell Oil Company if too many people opt out of CleanPowerSF. How many people in SF are employed by Shell, compared with PG&E. How much in taxes is paid by Shell, compared with PG&E.

Posted by Richmondman on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

How much political corruption in San Francisco has been sponsored by PG&E, compared to Shell? How many Bay Area residents were killed by Shell, compared to PG&E, which diverted money from fixing faulty welds into said political corruption? How many nuclear power plants does Shell operate in California, compared to PG&E? What percentage renewable power will this Shell subsidiary buy for San Francisco (answer: 100 percent), and how does that compare to PG&E's power portfolio (answer: less than 30 percent renewable)? Which company is prohibited by state law from actively campaigning against CleanPowerSF, a law that company ignored in Marin and is now ignoring in SF, Shell or PG&E? How many of PG&E's employees would be city employees if the company hadn't spend millions of dollars in ratepayer money fighting, with incredibly lopsided spending, every public power measure in city history?

Posted by steven on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

Buying out PGE then putting all those employees on the city payroll and retirement system. You are making the case that public power is a good idea right?

Keep losing at the ballot box, then just do it anyways when you can get over.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

The green power will come from Texas. Investment dollars will go to Texas. Overhead will be spent in Texas and Holland. San Franciscans will lose jobs, San Francisco will lose tax dollars. We have a better chance of effecting PG&E than we ever will Dutch Shell Oil Company of American, located in Houston, Texas. You can continue to dream about a City run monopoly (how's Muni working for ya?), but the reality is CleanPowerSF is a stupid on its own merits

Posted by Richmondman on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 7:50 pm


You might want to look into Shell's business practices in Nigeria and other countries before you start comparing them to PG&E. By comparison, PG&E is a paragon of virtue and compassion. Just saying...

Posted by Guest666 on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 10:20 am

The pension fund is out of control, band-aids will not stop the hemorrhaging, major surgery has to happen to save the patient Who has the balls to use the knife.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

Great! Cut the cops salaries and you'll be well on your way towards solving the budget problem.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

High crime means businesses and jobs leave, wealthy folks elave, the tax base erodes and the deficit actually becomes worse.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

And from what I recall of that debate, cops were *not* spared from the public ire over their pension salaries. But I'm sure you're delighted that we're still paying off Heather Fong, whose golden parachute was unbelievably extravagant.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

worth investing in. I don't begrudge those who put their lives on the line to protect lives and property.

It's the bureaucrats in cheap suits and parasitical muni workers that I'd chop.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

If the SF pension fund wanted to make some serious coin, it should invest in ammo makers...

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

I wish to make an inquiry. I've noticed---how could one not?---all of these inferior/imposter pleb trolls living on this forum day after day and night after night. Are you all in the same hospital with a lap top at your side with nothing else better to do? That's the impression one gets. Did you get a good group rate?

The reason I'm asking is because no matter what the topic, for example, someone will mention Ross M. and the imposter/amateur trolls immediately begin rehashing the Ross M. saga...some old rehashed hash from the bottom of the political garbage pale. The same with local political elections from the past (who had more votes is rehashed and rehashed). You've seen the imposter inferior trolls rehashing political hash from 10 years ago by the bucket full. You don't ever tire of rehashing hash? Personally, I tire of such hash. I can't talk about the same hash over and over and over endlessly over the years. I find it most tiresome. But then, I'm not sitting in a bunker or mental health ward somewhere all day and all night with nothing else better to do than to get a good plate of hash and rehash hash.

What led me to especially notice this sickness, I particularly noticed that rabid conservative "Guest" amateur/imposter troll who is nearly always the first to post on any article. ("First posting" as it's called is highly frowned upon by the International Troll Society, as "staggered posting" is recommended). One gets the distinct impression that this imposter pleb "Guest" troll is sitting in some hospital room somewhere with a lap top just waiting for another article to be published on this site so they can be the first once again to write their usual smug conservative hate. That particular imposter troll's repertoire is dated, beyond tiresome and not worthy of International Troll Society membership I would add. They'd slam the door in his/her face if that rabid "Guest" showed up requesting membership.

But do continue rehashing hash since most here seem addicted to arguing, rehashing and one-upping the other and other childish endeavors while rehashing the same burnt, over-seasoned, spoiled, moldy and rotten hash.

International Troll Society Member #12360969212

Posted by International Troll Society Member #12360969212 on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 7:05 pm

here, I'd posit that you may be the one needing urgent psychiatric treatment.

Try discussing the issues, rather than speculating about others here.

Posted by anon on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

Usually the troll is not so amusing.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 8:24 pm
Posted by anon on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

can't you fucking tell my kayboard is malfunctioning? Jerk.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 8:49 pm

Constructive criticism should always be welcomed.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 9:03 pm
Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 9:22 pm

Aren't your lap tops supposed to be off by 9pm in the ward, pleb, or are you on here and they think you're googling your drug therapy?

International Troll Society Member #12360969212

Posted by International Troll Society Member #12360969212 on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

Your posts are sounding more deranged lately - obtuse and strangely written. Perhaps your mention of "drug therapy" was a secret call for help? Our city family offers many counseling services for those with substance abuse problems. Call 311 for a start. And... good luck.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 11:01 am

That's the best you can come up with, pleb? What site did you cut and paste that from? It's so expected, so predictable, it's so very common and extremely amateurish. Think hard tthis time, I know that will be tough for you, but focus on original. You're allowed one more attempt, pleb.

International Troll Society Member #12360969212

Posted by International Troll Society Member #12360969212 on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

Well I got a reaction out of you, imposter troll. That was my intent. You took the bait like a good amateur. That was just too easy. You make it much harder for those of us who really are. I remember you. That "anon" redneck hillbilly hick who wants to make San Francisco into Topeka with your total worship and adoration of a certain conservative supervisor. Have you had your daily load of rehashed hash yet in your hospital ward, pleb?

International Troll Society Member #12360969212

Posted by International Troll Society Member #12360969212 on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 8:25 pm

that he suckered you, rather than vice versa.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 8:37 pm

And I guess you also think that water flows upward, pleb.

International Troll Society Member #12360969212

Posted by International Troll Society Member #12360969212 on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

What a troll!

Posted by marcos on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

resident community on the hop. Highly entertaining - my hat is off to him.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

talk about Ross now?

Posted by Chromefields on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 9:01 am

A non entity, neutralized and nondescript. Hoisted by his own petard.

That kind of thing?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2013 @ 9:15 am