Seattle’s Pension Fund Won’t Be Divesting From Fossil Fuels

Jul 13, 2017

Despite a lot of pressure from activists, Seattle will not be divesting from fossil fuel investments in its $2.5 billion pension fund. 

The board that oversees the pension fund for city employees met Thursday morning and faced a room full of protestors holding signs urging the city to take its money out of energy investments that pollute the air.

Climate activists said the city should put employees' holdings into more forward-looking renewable sources of energy instead.

“Unfortunately, the board decided against fossil fuel divestment today,” said  Alec Connon, with the climate action group 350Seattle.org.  

The board didn’t actually vote it down, but it also didn’t take action to divest.

"It’s definitely disappointing. We've had not only the mayor, but City Council passed a unanimous resolution in support of divestment, over two years ago now. Five hundred city employees and retirees have expressed their desire to see divestment,” Connon said.  

His group is taking heart in the board’s discussion of a possible increase in its investments in renewable energy.  

A spokesman for the board confirmed that there’s a possibility the money the pension fund has allocated in an asset class that includes renewable energy (called the infrastructure class) could be increased by as much as two percent, totaling what could amount to an additional $50 million.

But the city’s financial analysts concluded that’s about all the board can do while still fulfilling its fiduciary duty.