Under the Paris Agreement, all countries committed to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees C.
Fossil fuels are a main driver of climate change - and simply put we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. Fossil fuel divestment can help to preserve a safe climate, fill the renewable energy investment gap. The fossil fuel era is ending, and must be replaced by a cleaner, renewable energy economy.
Fossil fuels are also at play in other major catastrophes such as air pollution, contaminated drinking and groundwater from fracking, negative public health impacts, exposure to toxic chemicals, and accidents including spills, fires and explosions. In Colorado, there have been 13 explosions and fires at oil and gas sites since the tragic Firestone explosion last spring. Furthermore, fracking operations use billions of gallons of freshwater, of particular concern in our state where drought is an ongoing threat.
In 2016, PERA increased its holdings by 1200% in Extraction LLC, an oil and gas company that is proposing some of the most controversial projects in Colorado, such as fracking less than 1,000 feet from the Bella Romero 4th-8th grade school and playground in Greeley. Colorado public money should not be endangering public health and safety.
Furthermore, companies like ExxonMobil (who PERA has investments in) are under investigation for having deliberately misled the public, shareholders and governments over climate change science and climate risk for decades in order to protect their profits.
While it is true that we all live in a fossil fuel era, it needs to come to an end before more irreparable damage is done.