Divest WI Retirement System from Fossil Fuels

Petition to: State of Wisconsin Investment Board

Climate Safe Pensions for Wisconsin

Our Pensions --- Our Common Sense Investment Guidelines

Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) members are organizing a campaign to shift our retirement savings out of increasingly risky fossil fuels. These investments threaten our financial security, as well as our water, our health, and our planet.  

More than 650,000 people participate in the WRS, including current and retired employees of state agencies, most local governments and school districts in Wisconsin. The State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) is the state agency responsible for investing the contributions made to the WRS by these employees and their employers to finance their retirements and other benefits. In addition to the WRS trust funds, SWIB also invests for several other state trust funds. At the end of 2020, it was managing over $144 billion in assets.

Why should SWIB divest?

  • Fossil Fuels are increasingly financially risky as long term investments.

    Pension fund decision-makers have a fiduciary obligation to consider the financial risks of continuing to invest in fossil fuels -- an uncertain and volatile industry.

    Stranded assets are a real possibility, as fossil fuel companies will be left with oil fields that won’t be developed and pipelines that won’t be used.

  • Fossil Fuel investments are risking our water, the health of our planet, and the future of our children and grandchildren.

    SWIB should consider the broader risks of climate change when making decisions regarding our pensions.

  • We don’t want our pension dollars to continue to be invested in dangerous fossil fuel companies, particularly ones that directly endanger Wisconsin.

    For example, the dangerous oil pipelines owned by Canadian company Enbridge threaten Wisconsin’s water, the Great Lakes,tribal treaty rights, and landowner property rights.

  • It is possible to safely divest from fossil fuels.

    Over 1,500 institutions ― representing over $40 trillion in assets ― have now committed to some level of fossil fuel divestment.

    Other state pension funds, including Maine and New York, are moving out of fossil fuel investments while meeting their legal and fiduciary responsibilities.

    It is time for SWIB to do the same for Wisconsin’s pension fund.

To: Petition to: State of Wisconsin Investment Board
From: [Your Name]

As members of the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) we call on the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) to responsibly move toward fossil fuel divestment, including conducting adequate assessment of climate-related financial risk.

We are concerned about the financial and other risks associated with continuing to invest our retirement savings in a volatile and uncertain industry while the switch to renewable energy continues to accelerate.

We believe that divestment from fossil fuels is in line with SWIB’s fiduciary responsibilities to invest prudently for its annuitants. It’s time for the WRS to follow the example of other large state pension funds that have safely begun to divest from fossil fuels while meeting their legal and fiduciary responsibilities.

Therefore, we ask the SWIB to:

• Immediately halt any new investments in fossil fuels

• Develop and share a plan to phase out all current fossil fuel investments in the next five years

• Annually release a public list of all portfolio holdings in every asset class, including fossil fuels, so there is transparency about the pension fund’s investments

• Invest in the just transition to a sustainable energy future that is also financially stable in the long term