Clean Power

Published on April 30th, 2016 | by James Ayre

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Petition Calling For Employers To Offer Fossil-Free Retirement Options

April 30th, 2016 by  

Many in the US are at least partly reliant upon employer-offered retirement planning for their post-employment financial well-being. With that being the case, many are now in the position where the only employer-offered options involve investment into the fossil fuel industry.

So, what’s one to do if they’d rather not invest into the fossil fuel industry but would still like an employer-offered retirement plan? … if they’d rather that their retirement fund not be tied to the volatile oil industry?

FossilFreeFunds_infographic_4trillionin401ks

That’s the thinking that’s behind a new petition calling for all US employers to offer fossil-free retirement options to employees.

Here’s more from the petition page:

Petition content reads: “I call on my employer, and all US employers, to offer fossil-free retirement options to their employees.”

For most Americans, retirement planning means taking advantage of a 401k/403(b) or similar plan offered by their employer. In fact, American workers have invested more than $4.4 trillion in 401(k)s and similar retirement plans already.

But scientists also tell us that to stop the worst impacts of climate change, we need to leave 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground and make a rapid transition to 100% clean energy by 2050. That means a share of a big oil company with a 20 year plan to drill in the arctic, or utilities betting on China building a new generation of coal plants are both bad ideas and bad investments.

You’ve worked hard, played by the rules and invested wisely for your retirement. But your 401(k), mutual fund or pension could be hiding a dirty secret. Even funds that sound benign might contain enough oil, coal and fossil fuel stock to threaten our shared home.

One popular fund, for example, contains over $19,000,000,000 in dirty oil, coal, and gas investments — that’s over 11% of the total assets! And even some funds that are marketed as “sustainable” can contain substantial investments in the oil and gas sector or fossil-fired utilities.

Your 401(k) and pension committee need to know the future risk of staying invested in coal, oil, gas and fossil fuels — and the opportunities for a more sustainable earth, as the Sun, Wind and Water provides orders of magnitude more energy than the old pressed dinosaurs in the ground.

Did you and your retirement plan decision makers know that the US Department of Labor considers that investing for a better world can be as much a part of your fund administrator’s legal duty (also known as fiduciary duty) as investing for high returns? “Investing in the best interests of a retirement plan and in the growth of a community can go hand in hand,” said US Secretary of Labor Thomas E Perez.

The first step to cleaning up our collective retirement is to build a coalition of peers and interested co-workers — Our voices will be much stronger as a group.

If you haven’t already done so, head on over to the petition page and sign today.


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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • neroden

    My family’s retirement funds have been switched into real estate for various reasons. If your retirement plan offers this option, this is the most obvious way to get out of fossil fuels…

  • Matt

    Make sure you attend your annual 401k review with your employer, and ask when they will off a fossil fuel free plan. Also send a email to both your HR and the company managing your 401k ask the same. Talk to fellow employees and get them to do the same. It is slow, but if enough people make noise.

  • Graphite Gus

    Retirement is for fossils. I think you mean fossil FUEL free

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