Home Gas effect The teachers’ union has voted to divest US$255 billion from the coal, oil and gas pension fund as energy prices soar

The teachers’ union has voted to divest US$255 billion from the coal, oil and gas pension fund as energy prices soar


As energy prices continue to soar, some energy companies are set to resent the symbolic decision of a US teachers’ union to demand that its retirement fund be divested from coal, oil and gas investments.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has passed a resolution urging the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) – which administers pension funds for education workers – to immediately divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in green energy sources.

The resolution identifies “approximately US$255 billion is invested in fossil fuel companies” of the approximately US$5.8 trillion fund comprised of public and private pension plans by AFT members.

“AFT will urge the TIAA Board of Directors to dispose of the pension funds of members of higher education…of all companies or other entities that extract, transport, market or otherwise contribute to the production of coal, petroleum and gas,” reads the resolution.

The union voted for the resolution by its 3,000 members present at the meeting and representing 1.7 million union members.

“This is a huge step. In one of the hottest weeks ever measured on planet Earth, educators are seizing a teachable moment to say: stop investing in climate chaos and build instead the kind of world we want our students to grow up in,” said climate expert Bill McKibben.

The AFT’s David Hughes, one of the resolution’s 12 co-sponsors, said the vote is “a strong statement and a major climate solution”.

“These workers are taking control of their assets, taking the social license away from the fossil fuel industry, and looking to reinvest that money in sustainable jobs,” Hughes added.

If heard by the investment firm and created a ripple effect among other investors, the resolution could set a precedent by removing support for investment in the fossil fuel industry. This move would magnify the effect in the current economic climate where energy supply is currently at stake.

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