DENVER, CO – Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced that the City of Denver has begun divesting its $6bn General Funds’ portfolio from fossil fuel investments. The city said it was able to move quickly through the process as fossil fuels were already a small percentage of the overall portfolio – totaling approximately $179M. The announcement came at the 2019 Denver Mayoral Candidate Forum, where all Mayoral candidates responded enthusiastically when asked if they would divest the city from fossil fuel.
Jerry Tinianow, Denver’s Chief Sustainability Officer, says that Denver’s Mayor announced in March 2019 that the City would liquidate all debt instruments issued by non-renewable energy companies in its reserve fund. By April all had been sold, and the City was looking to replace them with debt instruments of comparable quality from energy efficiency and renewable energy companies. “We never held stock in coal, oil or gas companies, and our Mayor has no control over the employee pension fund, so he did what he could with the assets he controlled,” shared Tinianow. “We are proud of Denver’s action on divestment. Local 350 Colorado representatives played a major role in helping us decide what the right thing to do was.”
The divestment movement has been steadily growing globally, with over a thousand institutions committing to divestment thus far, representing over $8 Trillion in assets. Denver joins over 43 cities that have passed resolutions or ordinances to partially or fully divest from fossil fuels.
In the first-quarter of 2018, New York State, New York City and London called on their public pensions to divest. The World Bank is ending its lending to fossil fuel projects. Governments are also looking at fossil fuel divestment, including Ireland and Norway. Colorado has the opportunity to follow suit, showing bold leadership in a state that can lead the way in investing in cleaner, renewable energy technology.
“Our 350 Denver members, especially those who have worked on calling for Denver City divestment over the past years, are heartened to learn of Denver’s decision to divest its fossil-fuel holdings including Exxon-Mobil and Chevron. This is a powerful statement to our children, grandchildren and future generations that we care about them and want to invest in their future,” shared Barbara Donachy, a 350 Colorado board member and a lead volunteer calling on Denver to divest. “We are grateful to Mayor Hancock for this bold step. We at 350 Denver want to encourage even bolder steps that would include divesting our holding in the banks, currently JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, that are key funders of fossil fuel infrastructure projects that is fueling the climate crisis and infringing on indigenous rights.”
Donachy is referencing the Banking on Climate Change report released last month highlighting that global banks poured $1.9 Trillion into fossil fuel financing since the Paris Agreement was adopted, with JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo contributing the largest amounts.
As lawmakers, including here in Colorado, are passing legislation and having serious discussions about the scientific consensus that we need to transition significantly away from fossil fuels by 2030, public investment portfolios need to rapidly shift out of fossil fuel investments to mitigate risk. That is why 350 Colorado has joined others to call on the state pension fund, PERA, to follow Denver’s lead.