According to a report released Wednesday by a coalition environmental groups, the Oregon State Treasury has at most $5.3 billion invested with fossil fuel companies. The report was released by a coalition of environmental organizations. It blames the state for global warming and calls for divestment.
Oregon is a green-friendly state due to its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and being the first state in the country to cease using coal-fired energy. However, the state treasury is not working in accordance with these goals. It has more than $1B invested in the coal sector alone, Divest Oregon stated in its report.
According to the group’s findings, the state exposes Oregonians and its citizens to climate and health risk, economic costs, and financial loss due to its investments.
Oregon has probably invested more than $5.3 billion in oil, gas, and coal companies whose products contribute to global warming. This is because the numbers Divest Oregon obtained through a public records request from the state treasurey do not include private equity investments which are not subject of public disclosure.
Amy Bates, spokeswoman for the department, said that the treasury welcomes ongoing dialogue with Oregonians about the best ways to address climate change and ensure that we meet our mandate to provide sustainable returns for beneficiaries.
Bates stated that they were committed to building a portfolio that reflects changing policy environments and the realities of changing climates, while also earning money for the retirement security of tens of thousands in Oregon.
Tobias Read, the state treasurer, is running to be the Democratic nominee for governor in November. He is a strong advocate for combating climate change.
In a recent campaign statement, he stated that as governor, I will lead efforts to decarbonize the economy and prevent the worst of this crisis. I will bring a renewed urgency to building a clean economy and the infrastructure necessary to meet the challenges that we face.
The $140 billion investment portfolio of the state, which includes the state employees pension fund and the Reads agency, is still too deep in fossil fuels. Divest Oregon suggested that the agency should get rid of those investments and focus more on green energy.
According to the report, fossil fuels investments perform worse that those without them.
The report’s findings about fossil fuel sector investments is far more than the $1.8billion that a December 2012 study indicated was invested in this industry. Climate Safe Pensions Network’s report stated that it was based on partial data, which was delayed by the pension funds disclosure, and that the actual amount is likely to be higher.
In March, the Oregon House of Representatives passed a bill that would have increased transparency regarding state treasury investments. It was not voted on the floor by the Senate.
Sen. Jeff Golden (D-Ashland), one of the sponsors, stated that if he wins re-election, he will try again in the 2023 session.
Golden stated that if I return to Salem next session, ill work to advance divestment discussions. It seems that full public disclosure of investments made with public dollars is what we should all expect.
Global warming and climate change are caused by the burning of fossil fuels like coal and gas. Oregon has been feeling the effects of climate changes, with a record breaking heat wave that killed over 100 people last summer, severe droughts affecting large parts of the state, and worsening wildfires.
According to the new report, Oregon has a green economy. It is based on renewable energy and agriculture. There is also a history of protecting our natural resources. To build on this legacy, and lead the country forward, bold leadership is required from every governmental agency, including the Oregon State Treasury, which must divest.
Increasing numbers of states are also taking steps towards divesting.
On February 9, Thomas DiNapoli, New York state Comptroller, announced that the Common Retirement Fund would limit investments in 21 shale-oil and gas-producing businesses that have not demonstrated that they are ready for the transition to low-carbon economies.
DiNapoli stated that market forces and new policies will drive the energy transition. We must ensure that our investments are profitable and sustainable. There are many obstacles that the shale oil-and-gas industry will face as it moves forward, which could pose risks to its financial performance.
According to DiNapolis office: “The transition to the emerging net zero economy and climate change may have the most significant impact on the oil-and-gas industry, including shale oil companies and oil companies.”
Maryland legislators passed a bill this session that required a fiduciary to the State Retirement and Pension System, to assess the potential systemic impacts of climate change on assets.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said that although he didn’t veto it, he still had serious concerns about politicians interfering into the fiduciary obligations of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System. He said that the legislation was well-intentioned, but it creates a slippery slope. Instead of micromanaging,… elected officials should let our investment professionals and professionals do what they do best.
Divest Oregon is an Oregon-based coalition of individuals and organisations representing unions and racial and/or climate justice groups, youth leaders, and faith communities.
These are the groups that contributed to the production of this report Stand.Earth, 350.org, the Private Equity Stakeholder Project. Environment Oregon, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.