Pension Board losses tied to oil industry
On August 21, The Olympia City Council voted again to urge the Washington State Investment Board to address risk tied to fossil fuel investments. In May of 2013, Olympia and Thurston County had asked the Board to begin divesting from fossil fuels. Since then, these funds have sustained substantial losses and future returns are not expected to improve.
Concerned pensioners estimate past losses of $650 million over 18 months for funds managed by the Investment Board. In one case, the Board held onto coal investments until the company went bankrupt.
Divestment from carbon-based investments may be necessary
New York City has already made the move to divest pension funds from risky carbon-based investments. California pension funds divested from coal, but only after losses in the billions.
The American Medical Association has also jettisoned fossil fuel stocks. Analysis of the S&P 500 showed that, over the last year, holdings with no fossil stocks provided 18% larger yields. And in July, the country of Ireland announced it will withdraw all public funds from coal, oil and gas.
Giant oil companies are the target of major lawsuits by New York City, San Francisco, Oakland, and the State of Rhode Island, adding further financial uncertainty for these investments.