Labor groups want fossil fuel divestment from pension fund

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BOSTON (State House News Service) – Unions representing public employees have asked state pension fund managers to “incorporate climate change concerns” into its investment strategy and consider a gradual divestment from fossil fuels. The Massachusetts Nurses Association has signed onto the effort by SEIU Local 509, Divest Our Pensions Now and Educators for a Democratic Union, a caucus within the Massachusetts Teachers Association. The groups delivered a letter to the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board on Tuesday morning, ahead of an investment committee meeting at the fund’s offices near Faneuil Hall, according to a spokeswoman for Better Future Project.

“In the past year, a groundswell of divestment has occurred by major institutions, citing concerns for the planet-endangering behavior of fossil fuel companies as well as the risk of stranded assets,” the letter read. “Has PRIM considered gradual divestment of its fossil fuel assets, estimated at over 1 billion dollars?”

The groups tell pension fund managers they believe the board “has a fiduciary duty to incorporate climate change concerns into its investment policy decisions in the interest of not only pension beneficiaries, but in the interest of the taxpayers that indirectly contribute to the pension system.”

Efforts to legislate divestment of the pension fund from fossil fuel holdings have generally been countered by those concerned that basing investment strategy on environmental ideology would endanger the fund that finances public employees retirement checks.

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