Burlington City Council joins divestment movement

Last week the Burlington City Council voted to identify the city’s investments in fossil fuel companies and to divest those by April 2021.

The consensus among the council members was that the planet faces serious threats from climate change if these policies are not pursued.

“It is time for the City of Burlington to join the growing number of cities around the world that are fully divesting from fossil fuel companies,”  Mayor Miro Weinberger said ahead of the Nov. 23 vote.

“I support Councilor Jane Stromberg’s resolution before the City Council tonight that would initiate that process, and look forward to working with the Board of the Burlington Employee Retirement System and the City Council to see it implemented.”

Burlington City Councilor Jane Stromberg, P-Ward 8

Burlington City Councilor Jane Stromberg, P-Ward 8, has been at the forefront of this effort, as the lead sponsor of the divestment initiative. Stromberg has also been in the headlines lately for her calls for a “Burlington Green New Deal Investment Fund.” She wants the city to work toward becoming a “net-zero” carbon-free community by 2030.

Efforts to steer the city’s investment policies towards divestment began in 2016, when the city created a special task force to promote the policy. At the time Burlington’s Employee Retirement System (BERS) had about $3 million in carbon-based fuel investments, or about 2 percent of its total investments. BERS is expected to report by the end of April next year on how it intends to divest from these carbon-based energy sources.

Former Gov. Peter Shumlin has been one of the top proponents of the divestment policy. During his administration he had been calling for divestment of the Vermont State Pension Fund.

“Let’s put aside the fact that Vermont is a leader in combating climate change and together with California we can lead the country in making the right choices for our planet,” Shumlin said to the Vermont Pension Investment Committee in early 2016.

The total pool of the state’s pension fund is estimated at more than $4 billion which includes the Vermont Municipal Employees’ Retirement System, the Vermont State Retirement System, and the Vermont State Teachers’ Retirement System.

State Treasurer Beth Pearce strongly opposed Shumlin’s divestment plan, writing a letter in 2016 to oppose the governor’s plans. Rep. Robert LaClair, R-Barre Town, another vocal critic of the divestment movement, wrote in 2016 that “the irreversible costs associated with divestment will ultimately put pension plan beneficiaries’ assets at risk.”

According to Nicolas Loris, an economist and the deputy director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute, divestment does not make enough of an impact on large energy companies to make a difference.

“Divesting certain industries through political activism has a poor track record of effectiveness,” he wrote. “The companies in question are almost always able to continue to finance their operations and raise capital efficiently.”

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Beyond My Ken and Jane for City Council Facebook

11 thoughts on “Burlington City Council joins divestment movement

  1. They will divest but make up the investment losses through increased taxes. You’ve got to stop voting these idiot flatlanders into positions of power.

  2. These Idiots in City Government don’t have a clue, it’s all agenda-driven nonsense,
    most have no real connection with the city, just ” mini-carpetbaggers ” looking to
    move up ………… pathetic.

    So Vermonter’s,” Real ” Vermonter’s take a look at Chittenden County and it’s political
    base, you better wake, it’s coming your way.

    The Queen City is a disgrace because of liberals.

  3. I strongly urge you to watch this stunning documentary about Seattle.
    It is so gripping that you’ll have no trouble staying with it.
    THIS is what is going on in major cities across our nation.
    THIS is the plan that these people have.. they want destruction. They want to destroy the society that we have built.
    Lest we not forget that it’s the same people that tear down statues and monuments that will also tear down a city.
    These people have a vision that they want to force upon us, but what is there needs to go first..
    It’s really sick stuff, but when you see this and get it, you can see it everywhere.
    Watch this video and then think about what is going on in Burlington.. you’ll totally get it.

  4. The City of Burlington plagued with multiple street shootings, drug ODs on the increase, protesters blocking the streets, major construction project dead in its tracks for years, the high school polluted with cancer causing PCBs and the police defunded, so the City Councilor opts to focus on realigning energy holdings in the city employees retirement portfolio to save the planet……..What are they thinking, what are the city’s priorities?

    This is what the voters get when they elect a Councilor a few years out of college with essentially no real life experiences to guide the city………And the people wonder why Burlington is a mess.

  5. If it’s acceptable to protest and force divestment of one category of investments then it is proper to allow protests of any of the investments in the retirement funds. The best remedy, in the name of transparency, is to open up the entire investment portfolio for all to see the various investments and then decide to protest…or not! What is the ultimate goal: fully funding pensions or virtue signaling?

  6. Leave it to the twinkly eyed, progressive nitwits to advocate dropping an investment that is probably actually making money for underfunded state retirement programs. And all this to chase the fraud of ‘climate change.’ Jeez!

  7. Mayor Miro Weinberger might consider succession from the state.
    Carbon fuel means warmth incase the drugs in Chittenden county have completely overtaken the Leftists.

  8. I’ll take these fools seriously when they divest themselves of everything they own that uses energy. Cars, trucks, heating and cooling systems, etc. Hypocisy like this is one reason the country is being frittered away at the behest of feckless politicians.

      • Nothing is really about what they say it about, first of all.
        Also, we are dealing with people that have mental illness and it’s not a joke.
        They live in some fantasyland kinda frame of mind that is not based up the reality that well see everyday.
        That, and a lot of them are Useful Idiots.,

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