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Climate Justice and Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution for SCEC Final 10.6
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A Resolution Calling on the CTA to Support Climate Justice and CalSTRS Divestment from Fossil Fuels

WHEREAS per the CTA Organizational Handbook, CTA believes the human and civil rights of children and youth must be protected. The Association supports the rights of youth to safely access education and other human services during conditions of war, occupation, natural disaster and civil strife. The Association also supports programs and other efforts to prevent and alleviate the effects of such trauma upon children and youth;

WHEREAS climate-related crises disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities due to inequity in systems of power and lack of access to means and resources for prevention and relief;

WHEREAS all young people face significant generational inequities in their predicted lifetime exposures to climate-related disasters. A peer-reviewed study published in Science concludes that children who were 6 years old in 2020 may face “twice as many wildfires and tropical cyclones, 3 times more river floods, 4 times more crop failures, 5 times more droughts, and 36 times more heatwaves” relative to a person living under a pre-industrial climate.

WHEREAS the Climate Psychiatry Alliance states that climate inaction from institutions, teachers, and parents "has multiple traumatic effects on children including demoralization, development of hopelessness and defiance, and experiences of neglect and abuse that are associated with poor long term educational and emotional outcomes”;

WHEREAS the CTA has overstated fossil fuel divestment costs in the past. In a letter opposing the AB 20 (Kalra) Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) divestment bill, the CTA misrepresented CalSTRS estimate of potential costs of divestment. The CTA stated that “CalSTRS estimates [the costs] could be as high as $8 billion.” In fact, the only cost CalSTRS estimated was for administrative costs of between $800,000 and $28.7 million; the CTA overstated potential costs of this bill by a factor of 270 to 10,000. After the CTA’s opposition, Assemblymember Kalra amended the bill and removed divestment as a policy action.

WHEREAS as recently as 2020 CalSTRS had $3.2 billion invested in companies in the thermal coal value chain, including companies from the Powder River basin. These companies would benefit financially from the development of the so-called Toxic Coal Train project using SMART rail access through Sonoma, Marin, and Mendocino Counties in order to export coal to Pacific Rim nations.

WHEREAS decades of investor engagement with fossil fuel companies has failed to bring them in line with even a C pathway. According to a comprehensive study by the Transitions Pathway Initiative, NONE of the top 53 fossil fuel companies are on track to align their emissions with a 2°C climate pathway by 2050, as set forth in the Paris Agreement;

WHEREAS BlackRock - the largest asset manager on the planet - concluded that portfolios that divested “experienced no negative financial impacts from divesting from fossil fuels.” The report’s executive summary states that “no investors found negative performance from divestment; rather, neutral to positive results.”;

WHEREAS other large public pension funds in New York, Maine, Canada,  Ireland, the UK, Baltimore, the Netherlands, and more have upheld their fiduciary responsibilities while also divesting from fossil fuels. For example, the University of California divested its $83B portfolio from fossil fuels in one year and went on to achieve a 30% returns for the 2020-2021 fiscal year;

WHEREAS other unions and associations of California educators have already spoken up for pension fund divestment including the California Federation of Teachers (2016), Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (2020), California Faculty Association (2021), as well as local CTA chapters representing more than 40,000 CTA members;

WHEREAS the IPCC Special Report on 1.5℃ states that in order to stay close to the goal of 1.5˚C, the rate of global human-caused emissions must decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030;

WHEREAS to keep global warming to 1.5˚C and avert climate collapse, more than 85% of known carbon reserves must be kept in the ground, meaning fossil fuels stocks are overvalued by $1 to 4 trillion dollars;

THEREFORE, be it resolved, that the Sonoma County Educators Council of the California Teachers Association urges the California Teachers Association (CTA) to

  1. publicly support fossil fuel divestment as an effective strategy to combat the climate crisis that upholds fiduciary responsibilities while advancing climate justice;

  2. use its collective power and resources to strongly urge CalSTRS to immediately stop any new investment in fossil fuel companies and begin the process of complete divestment with a commitment to a defined exit strategy.

  3. join labor alliances working towards climate and environmental justice and a just transition to a carbon-free economy.

  4. publicly support SB 307 (McGuire) in order to block efforts to ship coal---a major driver of fossil fuel pollution and climate change---overseas through Northern California ports.

THEREFORE, let it also be it resolved, that the Sonoma County Educators Council of the California Teachers Association urges the Redwood Regional Service Center Council of the CTA to pass a climate justice and fossil fuel divestment resolution at their October 2021 Service Center Council meeting and to bring a climate justice and fossil fuel divestment NBI to state council in January 2021.

Council President __________________________________________     Date _______________________

Vice-President           __________________________________________        Date _______________________

Council Secretary:  Please send copies of signed, approved resolution to:

(1) CTA Divest: ctadivest@gmail.com

(2) CTA State Headquarters, P.O. Box 921, Burlingame, CA 94011-0921