U.S. public pensions could be $21 billion richer right now

A groundbreaking report from the University of Waterloo, commissioned by Stand.earth’s Climate Safe Pensions Network, reveals that 6 public pension funds missed out on over $21 billion in returns by failing to divest from fossil fuels ten years ago.
Group of 6 panelists from California divestment panel at IEEFA Conference with portable Climate Clock featured.

Photo Credit: Jeff Straw Branding


A groundbreaking report from the University of Waterloo, commissioned by Stand.earth and Climate Safe Pensions Network, reveals that 6 public pension funds missed out on over $21 billion in returns by failing to divest from fossil fuels 10 years ago.

A horizontal bar graph that displays the values of six major U.S. public pension funds. The values in this graph are percentage-based, cumulative, and from the date range of 2013-2022. There are two data groups with respective colors that identify them. Blue, formally labeled as 'Portfolio', identifies the pension funds' portfolio value with fossil fuel investment. Green, formally labeled as 'Ex-Energy', identifies the pension funds' portfolio value with fossil fuel divestment. *APFC - 210% Value in Portfolio, 219% Value in Ex-Energy *Alaska Retirement Management Board (ARMB) - 181% Value in Portfolio, 185% Value in Ex-Energy *California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) - 204% Value in Portfolio, 215% Value in Ex-Energy *California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) - 311% Value in Portfolio, 328% Value in Ex-Energy *Colorado Public Employees' Retirement Association (COPERA) - 250% Value in Portfolio, 268% Value in Ex-Energy *New York State Teachers' Retirement System (NYSTRS) - 317% Value in Portfolio, 335% Value in Ex-Energy *Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) - 321% Value in Portfolio, 333% Value in Ex-Energy * State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) - 292% Value in Portfolio, 310% Value in Ex-Energy

That’s an aggregate of 13% higher returns had they divested from fossil fuels a decade ago and a 35% drop in GHG emissions (energy use of 30 million homes per year, or 53 million gas-powered cars in 1 year). If fires and floods weren’t enough, this latest report should light a fire under major North American public pension funds to divest from fossil fuels.