Rep. Cleaver receives support for bill to study climate-related risks to pensions

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The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) endorsed a bill that looks at the impact of climate-related risks on federal pensions.

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The Restructuring Environmentally Sound Pensions in Order to Negate Disaster (RESPOND) Act would establish a Federal Advisory Panel on Climate Change within the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to study the financial risks posed by climate change to federal employee retirement benefits. If the board finds that federal pensions would be better protected by divesting from the fossil fuel industry, the board would be required to establish a plan.

The bill was introduced by U.S. Reps. Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

“Curbing investments in harmful, fossil fuels is not only good for the environment and our planet – it’s good for workers, too,” said Everett Kelley, national president of AFGE. “According to Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, removing fossil fuels securities from the Thrift Savings Plan will have no negative impact on the rate of return federal employees get on their retirement savings. This change is an opportunity to take an important step toward addressing our climate emergency and saving our environment with no sacrifice to employees’ retirement savings. That’s why we support President Biden’s call to mitigate the impact of federal agencies’ financial activities on the environment.”

Cleaver applauded the AFGE for its support.

“As the largest union of federal employees, the AFGE has always been the strongest proponent of protecting federal workers and their hard-earned pensions,” Cleaver said. “It has become abundantly clear, based on multiple studies from reputable asset management firms and economists, that investments in the fossil fuel industry are a one-way ticket to the financial disaster. By allowing the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to formally study the risks of climate-related investments and immediately begin to set a plan in place to divest, we can ensure the lifelong work of federal employees isn’t at risk of disaster—all while protecting our environment and the only planet God gave us.”

In May, President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to study whether investments in the fossil fuel industry threatened the Thrift Savings Plan. Cleaver would like to see Congress codify this executive order into law and go a step further by ensuring the Board immediately puts a plan in place to divest from the fossil fuel industry if the study shows that federal pensions would be better served by doing so.

The RESPOND Act is endorsed by Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, Center for Biological Diversity, American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, Ceres, 350.org, Climate Hawks Vote, Climate Health Now, Catholic Network US, Earth Guardians, Center for International Environment Environmental Law, TIAA-Divest from Climate Destruction, Fossil Free California, Businesses for a Livable Climate, GreenFaith, Divest New Jersey Coalition, Colorado Businesses for a Livable Climate, Texas Campaign for the Environment, Zero Hour, Citizens Climate Lobby of Kansas City, and the Climate Council of Greater Kansas City, among others.

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