Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

California students protest the state's teachers' pension fund's continued investment in fossil fuels.

California students protest the state's teachers' pension fund's continued investment in fossil fuels. (Photo: Peg Hunter/CalSTRS)

Youth Activists Call on California State Teachers Retirement System to End 'Toxic Relationship' With Fossil Fuel Companies

"You want to be in a relationship with fossil fuel companies?"

Eoin Higgins

Youth climate activists in California descended on the state's capitol Sacramento on Thursday to demand divestment from the fossil fuel industry from public school teachers' pension system.

"You want to be in a relationship with fossil fuel companies?" Sujeith, a sixth-grader from Oakland, asked the board of the California State Teachers' Retirement System, or CalSTRS. "What have they done before other than pollute the planet? That sounds like a toxic relationship."

Thursday's action was aimed at pressuring the board of CalSTRS, which manages pensions for the state's public school teachers, to divest from fossil fuels. The fund has claimed that divestment would be a financial burden on its members. 

"CalSTRS is playing roulette with our pensions and our children's future by holding onto these doomed assets," said CalSTRS member Paula Buel, a retired teacher who volunteers with climate advocacy group Fossil Free California.

As Common Dreams reported, perceiving fossil fuels as "doomed assets" is no longer unique to the climate movement. CNBC anchor Jim Cramer called the industry "in the death knell phase" on Friday and announced he was no longer recommending investing in fossil fuels. 

While CalSTRS did vote on Thursday to institute "Belief 9," a policy statement on the risks of climate investment, that's no substitute for real action, said Fossil Free California executive director Vanessa Warheit.

"We appreciate CalSTRS' efforts to engage corporations to help mitigate their climate-related risk," said Warheit. "But engaging with the energy sector—which is currently 100% comprised of fossil fuel companies—is a waste of staff time and resources."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

To 'Step Back From the Edge of Recession,' UN Urges Central Banks to Stop Rate Hikes

The UNCTAD chief warns that "the current course of action is hurting the most vulnerable, especially in developing countries, and risks tipping the world into a global recession."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Their Greed Knows No Bounds': Analysis Shows Ongoing Price Gouging by Oil Giants

"Big Oil is boasting record profits and dragging their feet to pass any lower costs onto consumers in order to keep padding investors' pockets," said Accountable.US.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Doing This for My Son': UK Climate Activist Gives Interview While Handcuffed, Hauled Off by Cops

"The government's inaction on climate change is a death sentence to us all," the Just Stop Oil protester said.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Dr. Oz Is a Puppy Killer': Fetterman Campaign Responds to Reporting on Animal Testing

"This is who Dr. Oz is: unconscionable and a danger to others," said Fetterman's wife, activist Gisele Barreto Fetterman.

Julia Conley ·


'We Must Not Stand By': Amnesty Urges State Leaders to Ban Guns Near Polling Places

"Governors and secretaries of state must do everything in their power to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers this November."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo