Divestment of State Pension Funds (S.42) - April 19, 2023

Bill McKibben from Third Act joined the House Government Operations Committee on Wednesday to discuss S.42. He noted divestment started here in Vermont years ago. Third Act was founded by McKibben, who wrote the "original book" about global warming. In LA Times and companies knew, all the way back in the 1980s, about the impact of fossil fuels and "lied about what fossil fuels can do to the environment," he claimed.

Movement began to grow as climate change became the "issue of this time." The academic literature is "pretty unimpeachable" at this point, he noted. "Studies show no financial impact come from divesting," he claimed, pointing to the divestment activities of New York and of Maine. McKibben noted he has "tons of documentation to show there is no financial impact from divesting," he repeated. 

He noted that Mike Pieciak (State Treasurer) had "swung behind the movement," and cautioned against delay. Most political questions are perennial, they noted. We make some progress, come back and make a little more progress. However, climate change is different, he argued. Once we raise the sea level no one knows how to lower it. He urged that the "time for action is now," and the House is the "last piece of the puzzle."

McKibben is "in it for the long term," knowing that the Governor will likely veto the bill.

Members of the Committee asked what McKibben's opinion was on testimony from the Vermont Pension Investment Commission (VPIC). He believed that corporate engagement strategies make sense when there is a "flaw" in corporate strategies. However, in this case it isn't a "flaw," fossil fuel is the plan and it is flawed because – they only do one thing. 

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