In 2021, Maine became the first state to mandate divestment of state retirement accounts from fossil fuels. Two years later, the Maine Public Employees Retirement System’s Board refuses to implement L.D. 99. MPERS claims that fiduciary duty to retirees prevents them from doing anything that might cause losses. That argument holds no water. Accounts containing fossil fuels do no better than those without.

L.D. 99 addresses the surging climate crisis. The “Maine Won’t Wait” climate plan calls for emission reductions in all sectors. MPERS impedes. Recently, the COP28 climate conference concluded that we “transition away from fossil fuels in a fair and equitable manner.” MPERS refuses.

On Jan. 23, our Legislature passed a resolution supporting the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, which calls for 1) an immediate end to the expansion of fossil fuels; 2) the phasing out of existing production to meet the goals of the Paris accord in a fast and fair manner; and, 3) a just transition that leaves no workers and countries behind. Maine moved, and MPERS stalls.

Retirement accounts are long-term investments, and unabated climate change will crush their value. Investment boards are composed of economists whose projections about climate risk are absurdly optimistic. MPERS is out of touch.

Insurance companies deal in reality, and many are now declaring climate-risky regions uninsurable, starting in California and Florida. Ponder that phenomenon spreading with the fires and floods. Envisioning a climate future with 2- or 3-degree Celsius global temperature rise is painful. MPERS must help prevent that. Maine requires better.

Charles Spanger
Third Act Maine steering committee

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