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September 12, 2017

Five Things to Know about San Francisco and Divestment this Week

After multiple delays, there’s a lot of attention this week on the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System (SFERS) and whether or not they will divest. Divestment Facts breaks down what is, and most importantly what is not, going on.

  1. For starters, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors today passed a non-binding resolution that was “expected to pass” that calls on the San Francisco Retirement Board to divest. This resolution is purely symbolic and has no legal authority.
  2. The Retirement Board – the body that has actual decision power on this issue – is meeting tomorrow, although according to the agenda (Action Item 22) their plan is to simply discuss the Board of Supervisors resolution. It’s unlikely they will actually be voting on divestment.
  3. In a recent memo to the SFERS board, both the SFERS staff as well as SFERS’ independent investment consultant NEPC conclude that divesting would harm the fund and call for SFERS to reject the motion to divest.
  4. Divestment is proven to be a costly gesture. Previous reports calculate SFERS stands to lose up to $201 billion over 50 years – and millions of dollars annually – if it were to fully divest.
  5. Given the high percentage of SFERS’ fossil fuel investments held in indirect holdings, divestment would also impose expansive new transaction fees, management fees and compliance costs while having no impact on the environment or targeted companies.

Divestment will only hurt San Francisco’s pensioners, yet divestment activists are bound to keep pushing for this expensive and misguided policy.  We’ll keep an eye out to make sure the facts aren’t forgotten along the way.


Read more why SFERS should say no to divestment in previous posts, including Ahead of SFERS Vote, New Report Shows Divestment Would Be CostlyDivestment Could Cost SFERS $201 Billion; Staff Recommends Rejecting Proposal, and Deep Blue Cities and States Can’t Bring Themselves to Divest.