British Columbia teachers urge teachers union to honor divestment resolution ahead of BCTF executive meeting
Over 1000 emails sent to BCTF demanding action on the climate resolution voted on in early 2022, divestment from fossil fuels
(TURTLE ISLAND LANDS / UNCEDED ANCESTRAL HOMELANDS OF THOUSANDS OF INDIGENOUS TRIBES) — Ahead of the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) executives meeting tomorrow, Friday November 18, teachers across British Columbia are increasing pressure on BCTF to follow through on the overwhelming vote at its March 2022 shareholder meeting (page 30) to divest its over $37.8 billion pension fund from fossil fuels. Teachers are increasingly concerned about the risk of the climate crisis for students, as well as financial risk to savings, which is inherent in fossil fuel investments as governments and insurance companies wake up to climate risk.
The BCTF Divest Now campaign has repeatedly urged the BCTF executive to develop a divestment plan, appoint someone to spearhead the process, and begin divestment by January 2023 at the latest.
“Teachers want our students to thrive. To thrive, they need a climate-safe world, free of frequent storms, droughts, wildfires, and flooding. They need air that is free of smoke. In turn, teachers need our students’ respect. We want to look them in the eye and tell them that we are doing our best for them; we certainly don’t want to be profiting from things that will harm our students.” said Jillian McGuire, High School English Teacher, District 39.
A quick comparison of BCI’s 2021 Investment Inventory with its 2022 Investment Inventory shows two new private oil and gas companies in BCI’s “Infrastructure & Renewable Resources” portfolio in 2022– Corex Resources and Connaught Oil and Gas. This move is a step in the opposite direction of the resolution.
BCTF 1st Vice President Carole Gordon informed BCTF Divest Now of a letter sent to the BC Teachers’ Pension Plan board, informing the board of the vote. The BCTF claims the matter is out of their hands. Given the rise in climate-related emergencies, one letter is not good enough.
BCTF Divest Now is partnering with Stand.earth, Shiftaction.ca, and the Climate Safe Pensions Network to demand the BCTF honour the vote of its members. BCTF executives and board already received over 1000 emails from members urging fossil fuel divestment.
BC Teachers’ pension savings are invested, through the Teachers’ Pension Plan (TPP), by the $211 billion British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI). The TPP contains many of the dirtiest fossil fuel and pipeline companies in the world including Chevron, and TC Energy (the company behind Coastal GasLink), which is currently drilling on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory.
Amy Gray, Stand.earth Senior Climate Finance Strategist, and coordinator of the Climate Safe Pensions Network said: “It’s time for BCTF to follow through on the will of its members who voted for, and overwhelmingly passed, the divestment. The financial case for fossil fuel divestment remains strong. The fossil fuel industry is structurally failing. Pension funds, banks, and institutional investors with long-term investment horizons must read the writing that’s been on the wall for more than decade: divest from fossil fuels, reinvest in climate-safe solutions, and protect returns, pensioners, and planet.”
To date, over 1550 institutions representing more than $40 trillion in assets have committed to some level of divestment. This includes prominent pension funds, such others are New York City, Maine and Chicago, as well as the $392 billion CDPQuebec (representing more than six million Quebecois) divesting from more than $1 billion in oil producing companies.