Letter to the Editor in Marin IJ by 350Marin Steering Committee Member

Jolon Timms, a 350Marin Steering Committee member, had a letter to the editor published Monday, June 15. The letter was in response to an earlier Marin IJ article Climate change activists urge Marin officials to dump fossil fuel stock investments. The article quoted 350Marin Steering Committee members Jody Timms and Ken Jones.

Climate protection should be fiduciary responsibility?

The IJ’s reporter seems to have misheard the arguments made by 350Marin members to the Marin County Employee Retirement Association board on Wednesday since he quotes the board’s policy on “fiduciary duties” to explain to us why the pension fund has refused to divest from fossil fuel companies.

With unprecedented geopolitical agreement on emissions reductions coming this December at COP 21, the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, failure to divest will represent a failure on the part of the Marin pension trustees to uphold their fiduciary duties as coal, oil and gas stock will dramatically drop in value and become stranded assets.

On June 5, the Norwegian Parliament, which oversees the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund at $890 billion, voted to pull billions of dollars of coal investments, no doubt because of the threat of climate change and the current undesirability of coal stock.

We must pause and ask ourselves: Is MCERA taking climate risk seriously? Will its trustees be vulnerable to litigation against them when fossil fuel investments crash and the pension is out tens of millions of dollars? Are the trustees being willfully ignorant of the facts? Trustees around the world, Stanford University, Oxford University and others have decided to divest.

Do those trustees not have an even greater “fiduciary duty” managing larger funds than Marin’s pension fund?

MCERA board members need to wake up, smell the exhaust and fulfill their fiduciary duties by divesting.

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