Below are two letters. The first is intended for TIAA participants (That’s folks who have retirement accounts with TIAA). The second is for everyone else. Feel free to customize these letters, and please ask your friends to write too!
Attn: Thasunda Brown Duckett TIAA 730 3rd Avenue New York, NY 10017 [date] Dear Ms. Duckett, I am a TIAA participant and a [professional position]. I’ve always been proud that my retirement is being handled by TIAA, which is famous for being a socially responsible investor. I have been very unhappy to learn that my retirement savings are actually being invested in climate destruction. I understand that TIAA still has $10 billion invested in fossil fuels, which are an increasingly poor investment as well as catastrophic for our collective future. TIAA not only continues to have substantial fossil fuel exposure but even its Social Choice Equity Fund has millions invested with companies intent on drilling for new oil and gas, including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Kinder Morgan, even while scientists have been clear that we cannot afford to burn the fuels from the wells we have now. New drilling is exactly the worst path to take. I was surprised and dismayed to discover that TIAA has also funded two fracked gas plants, one in New York and one in Ohio. Scientists have now shown clearly that fracked gas is nearly 100 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. These need to be shut down immediately. I have learned, too, TIAA has financed land grabs that have driven indigenous people off their lands and contributed to deforestation at a moment when we urgently need more forests to capture the carbon that fossil fuels are throwing into the atmosphere. How can TIAA call itself a responsible investor while thousands of other institutions, including the Episcopal Church, Cambridge University, the University of California System, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, and the Republic of Ireland, have all committed to divestment from fossil fuels? How can TIAA stay committed to oil and gas when these industries are doing so badly in the market? This sector finished dead last in the Standard & Poor’s 500 in 2018, and Moody’s downgraded the credit rating of Exxon Mobil from “stable” to “negative.” As entire regions move aggressively away from fossil fuels, oil and gas investments seem incredibly risky just on financial grounds, not to mention the massive scale of suffering they are bringing. In short, I do not want my retirement invested in climate destruction at a moment when it is absolutely urgent that we invest in renewable and safe alternatives to fossil fuels. With thanks in advance for your time and attention to this matter. Sincerely, [Name] [date of birth] [phone number] [email address]
Here’s the Letter for non-participants:
Attn: Thasunda Brown Duckett TIAA 730 3rd Avenue New York, NY 10017 [date] Dear Ms. Duckett, I’ve always heard that TIAA is famous for being a socially responsible Investor, and many of my friends are directly invested in TIAA. But I’ve learned that actually TIAA’s investments are a major driver of climate destruction, so I’m urging my friends to invest elsewhere. I’m writing to ask you to direct TIAA to quickly divest from fossil fuel industries and from deforestation risk investments. September 2020 was our warmest September on record, with an average global temperature increase of 1.8 degrees. CO2 levels have climbed to 410 parts per million. Both California and Colorado are having their worst fire season ever. Floods have displaced 1.5 million people in East Africa. The Atlantic storm season is extreme. Arctic sea ice is at its second lowest level in history. Climate impacts are increasing exponentially, and every fraction of a degree matters. Fossil fuels are increasingly poor investments, as fossil fuel investments are rapidly becoming stranded assets. In the race to divest, the last one out loses. Does TIAA, in its slowness to respond to the climate emergency, want to hold onto toxic stranded assets? My colleagues who are invested in TIAA can’t find a Fossil Free Fund. TIAA offers a dirty “Low Carbon Equity” fund which includes 38 fossil fuel industry holdings. That includes Antero, the fracking company that polluted Pavilion, Wyoming drinking water with benzene and then fought court battles against EPA scientists for 10 years in a failed attempt to deny that fracking contaminates drinking water. It seems TIAA does not care about health or truth, let alone climate. As a climate-smart citizen, I was shocked to learn that TIAA has directly funded two fracked gas plants, Cricket Valley Energy in New York and Carrolton in Ohio. Methane is at least 86 times more potent in global warming impact than CO2 on the 20-year time frame. And real data shows that fracked gas is even worse than coal, on the 20 year time period, in its life cycle climate impacts. TIAA has financed major land grabs, including in Brazil,that drive indigenous people off their lands and contribute to deforestation. I’m concerned about justice. TIAA’s investments in fossil fuels, and in deforestation, contribute to what many are calling “climate genocide.” Black and brown, Indigenous, and people of color are most vulnerable to the increasingly violent impacts of climate change. In conclusion, climate is a racial justice issue, and deforestation is a human rights issue; both should be central to TIAA’s decisionmaking. In financial terms, it defies reason that TIAA would stay in its bad marriage with oil and gas when this sector finished dead last in the Standard & Poor’s 500 in 2018. Moody’s downgraded Exxon Mobil’s credit rating from “stable” to “negative.” TIAA, please invest in energy efficiency technologies, and in clean, renewable solar, wind and micro-hydro, rather than remaining invested in climate death. I ask TIAA to become a good citizen by immediately placing a moratorium on all new direct fossil fuel investments, by implementing a no-deforestation-risk investment policy, by selling and pressing for closure of CVE and Carrolton fracked gas power plants, and by committing to full divestment from all fossil fuel industry holdings. I appreciate your time and attention to this matter. Sincerely, [Name] [phone number] [email address]