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Following a three-year campaign, environmental groups and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen announced on Monday that D.C.’s pension fund for government workers has fully sold off direct investments in 200 fossil-fuel firms.
Lawmakers are expected to recognize the decision by the D.C. Retirement Board, which manages the $6.4-billion fund, with a ceremonial resolution tomorrow. Advocates praised the divestment as an effective move against climate change, sending a signal that public dollars should not be put into companies whose operations, they allege, cause pollution. Scores of philanthropic groups, schools, and local governments have also joined the divestment campaign.
“If we’re going to take real action on climate change, we must take a hard stance against the fossil fuel industry,” said Matt Grason, of advocacy group DC Divest. “By divesting from fossil fuels, the nation’s capital has taken a critical step in creating the political will for climate action. Now it’s time for Congress to take note and pass comprehensive legislation to limit the carbon pollution driving climate change.”
Matthew Gravatt, chairman of the District’s chapter of the Sierra Club, added in a statement that DCRB’s divestment represents “a commonsense step” away from “increasingly risky and volatile dirty fuel investments.” Chesapeake Climate Action Network Director Mike Tidwell said the decision cuts “financial ties with oil, gas, and coal companies that are responsible for creating [the climate-change] crisis and blocking [the] path to solutions.”
The announcement follows the District’s committment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Likewise, in August, Mayor Muriel Bowser made public a 20-year wind-power agreement governing 35 percent of the energy supply for District government buildings. Officials argue it will save taxpayers $45 million over that period.