Pieciek: Please factor climate change into proposals for state pension funds

BELLOWS FALLS — An open letter to Mike Pieciak, candidate for Vermont State Treasurer:

As a retired schoolteacher, I'm grateful for my monthly check from the Vermont State Teachers' Retirement System (VSTRS), the funds of which are based in part on contributions I made while working. Administration of Vermont's pension funds will be part of your job if your candidacy for state treasurer is successful.

I appreciate your support for divesting from fossil fuels in Vermont's pension funds, but I urge you to consider a much faster timeline than you've proposed.

While it's important for a state treasurer to make prudent and thoughtful decisions, it's also important to take the urgency of the climate crisis into account in making those decisions.

Given the restrictions that climate change itself will increasingly make on the viability of fossil fuels, and the accompanying reduction in profits of the fossil fuel industry, divesting state funds from fossil fuels sooner than later is likely to be more prudent.

You've indicated you would consider following New York's model for divestment. That strategy, based on a 20-year timeline, is unreasonable, given that the climate emergency will by no means escalate at a similarly plodding pace!

As a retired teacher, I'm personally invested in the issue of Vermont's pension funds. Based on my reading of studies of actual divestment experiences of other states, organizations, and individuals, I'm confident that divesting Vermont's pension funds from fossil fuels as soon as possible would be prudent financially. This is especially true as we factor in the extra expenses Vermont would incur by delaying actions to mitigate climate change.

Teachers tend to care about next generations. As important as my pension check is to me each month, it is nothing compared to how much I want our children, grandchildren, and all future generations to inherit a planet that is livable for humans.

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