Melissa Romero:

Welcome to the last panel of the day. We’re here to talk about corporate responsibility. My name is Melissa Romero, Senior Legislative Manager with California Environmental Voters. You might know our organization formerly as CLCV, California League Conservation Voters. So, welcome. We are going to talk about corporate responsibility today. And when we talk about what it’ll take to address the climate crisis, at the scale and the pace that’s necessary to avoid irreversible climate catastrophe. And to save our future because it’s no longer just about future generations, it’s about all of us. The solutions that are necessary really do require that we transform every sector of our economy. And that we transform our economy to big clean energy economy. In order to be responsive to the threats of the climate crisis that are imminent and also to transition to clean energy solutions that will stay block the worst impacts in the future and reduce our emissions and protect communities…

Melissa Romero:

And that really does require a level of participation, accountability, and leadership from the corporate sector at a scale that matches the very real threat, that the climate crisis will pose. To all of our collective futures and our economy. So, we are joined today by some incredible individuals, who have the solutions and are actually pushing for those to become law in California. So, in a bit, we’ll be joined by Senator Scott Wiener, who is the author of the Climate Corporate Accountability Act, Senate Bill 260. Which requires large profitable corporations to disclose and report on their greenhouse gas emissions…

Melissa Romero:

And we are also joined by some amazing speakers, Miriam with Fossil Free California, Chris, with Youth Vs Apocalypse and Sim with Climate Strike LA. So, Senator Wiener is going to be joining us in a bit to speak to both bills. He is also co-author of SB 1173, which is offered by Senator Lena Gonzalez, requiring the state pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest from fossil fuels. So, I want to start with some questions for our speakers that are here about the Divestment Bill that they are working on pushing forward and making law in California. So, I want to, first of all, let you all have an opportunity to introduce yourself, but in doing that can tell us about who you are, your organization, and tell us more about SB 1173 and what the impact will be for the climate and for Californians.

Miriam Eide:

Totally. Just everyone can hear me. My name is Miriam Eide. As was mentioned, I’m the Coordinating Director at Fossil Free California. And Fossil Free California is one of the two co-sponsors of the SB 1173 Divestment Bill alongside California Faculty Association. And we are working closely with many outlier organizations, including those represented here today on the panel. The SB 1173 Bill would mandate that CalPERS and CalSTRS, the state pensions, divest about $9 billion from fossil fuels. Specifically, they would be asked to divest from the carbon underground 200, which is a list of the largest coal and gas and oil companies in the world. They would be mandated to do so by the year 2027. And they would begin recording as of 2024, so that they would have transparency as to their progress towards divestment. And really we believe that divestment is one of the keys to paying the way for pretty much any climate legislation to be successful…

Miriam Eide:

As many of us have experienced who worked on legislation, it’s exceedingly difficult to get climate legislation through in California or anywhere in the country or often in the world. And what we understand is that money really is power. It’s a tool to get people to vote or to make them want a certain thing. And in the case of our pensions, first in so long, as our pensions remain invested in fossil fuels, it’ll be in their best interests to see fossil fuel companies remain successful financially. And that’s not what we want for our climate safe future. And so we are asking them to divest from fossil fuels to free themselves and the influence so that they can better advocate for us as citizens of state of California’s needs. And so I’ll pass it off to you Sim or actually to Chris first.

Christopher Soriano:

Hey everybody. My name is Christopher. I’m 14 years old. I’m a freshman in Bogan High School back in the Bay Area. And I go by, he, him and I’m a youth organizer and community organizer with Youth Vs Apocalypse, Bay Area Youth Climate Justice Organization. And I’m here to advocate for SB 1173. I’m also one of the youth that worked on this bill actually. And so then teachers began about 13 years ago to learn about the pensions being invested in fossil fuels. And they have shown up to counselor’s board meetings ever since. I guess I’ll pass it on to Sim.

Sim Bilal:

What’s up. My name is Sim Bilal and I’m from South LA and I’m here representing Youth Climate Strike Los Angeles. I’ve been an organizer for over five years fighting the climate crisis. So, I come from South LA, we have the largest urban oil field in the country. I see the impacts of the CalSTRS and CalPERS investment in my community every single day. People I look most are fighting cancer and asthma in high school and middle school, elementary school. Divestment is not only financially sound, but it’s really your moral responsibility to the [inaudible 00:07:07] who have the least amount of power. There’s a reason why we have the largest urban employment field in South LA it’s because we don’t have the power to advocate for ourselves when it comes to [inaudible 00:07:18] all makers. So, I’m here Jay, to talk about basically what divestment would mean for me in my community as a community.

Miriam Eide:

Sure. Do you want to share the next question or should we keep going?

Melissa Romero:

Let’s do it. So, can you all speak to the urgency and the importance of California putting policies like requiring state pension funds to domestic fossil fuel in place?

Miriam Eide:

Absolutely. So, we’ve seen that in our eight years for Fossil Free California and closer to about four with Youth Vs Apocalypse. I don’t know for Youth Climate Strike LA, of advocating for the divestment of our state pensions. They really haven’t given a lot of ground. We have seen certain board members stand out in support of divestment. However, their overall pension stance has remained opposed. And that really is the trend for all divestment campaigns across the State of California of whether it’s fossil fuels or otherwise. In order for the pensions to actually follow through in divestment, whether it be from Turkey or Iran, on a political stance or from thermal coal, as we saw with SB 185 in 2015. We really need to have legislation. And then at that point, once the pensions are legislatively required to divest, then they responded through their due diligence. I’ll pass it off to you guys to talk about the like economic and moral responsibility in urgency.

Christopher Soriano:

Okay. For sure. As a youth, I’ve definitely learned that California is definitely a leader in our nation I’m pretty sure. And then I can just say that if California were to pass legislation that apply for a fossil fuel divestment, I can already see a global movement. We already have a global movement, but it can further strengthen that global movement of fossil divestment, and also for the moment of fossil divestment, and so.

Miriam Eide:

What is the urgency around the [inaudible 00:09:28].

Sim Bilal:

I can definitely say the urgency around divestment is need. We have seven years stuck on the climate crisis, because over and over again. But you know, this isn’t just a future problem. We see the influence of fossil fuel pensions and fossil fuel investment taking lives in the [inaudible 00:09:48] territory, taking lives [inaudible 00:09:50], taking lives in California. We’re living through the climate crisis right now. And this isn’t a future problem. This is something we need to address immediately. And divestment how aids in that. Divestment is the immediate transition from fossil fuel investments to sound clean infrastructure. Its something that needs to happen immediately if we’re going to have any chance of adapting to the common crisis or correcting our wrongs today.

Melissa Romero:

Thank you. So, I want to speak to why voluntary action isn’t enough and isn’t quick enough and at scale enough. And I think to start that a lot of folks have an idea of what ethical investing is. And they have idea about how it’s not going to give them as much returns and just trying to debunk some of those things, which we know are absolutely false. And really the idea behind divestment is about putting our money where our mouth is. It’s about ensuring that we aren’t putting our money towards industries that are creating the problems that we are actively trying to solve as a society. And I think divestment is such an important issue because so much of the state pension funds are going to fossil fuel. At the same time at this industry is undoubtedly the cause of the global climate crisis. And continues to advocate for our dependence on fossil fuel far in the future. So, can you all speak to how and why voluntary action on issues like divestment is not at scale enough and is not quick enough.

Miriam Eide:

First, you want to share a little bit about the history of equipment and what that has worked.

Christopher Soriano:

For sure. Just to begin, I believe that youth shouldn’t be fighting for their lives. It should be a normal human right. It should be a natural right that they should be able to have a livable future to live in. That type of future, a future planet to live in that they don’t have to worry about their future kids and future grandchildren that their lives can be at risk. I believe that I even shouldn’t be [inaudible 00:12:02] and even be here to fighting for our lives and advocating for a healthier planet…

Christopher Soriano:

And for sure, I think definitely the youth, they’re been a lot of movement in the youth movement of fighting for climate justice. And it is very powerful, but it can also be very stressful for me personally. And I’m sure for a lot of other youth. We also have additional school, stress and everything else piled on top of in addition to activism, stuff like that. And definitely it can be a lot, but it’s also very important that we also advocate for our lives, even though it can be very stressful and stuff like that. So…

Sim Bilal:

I think for me, this idea of a voluntary divestment, it should have happened, like Chris was saying before we were born. 30 years ago, you guys had the chance to push these sort of initiatives, but in actuality, you kind of fucked up. So, it’s up to us to pick up the rings and push divestment. You cannot wait for these corporations to say, “okay, now we’re ready to divest”. You guys drop the ball and we’re telling you to pick it up, pick it up right now and take your money and take it of the fossil fuels because we cannot wait. That is the urgency that is involuntary doesn’t work. You had time before we were born to do that. You chose not to. So, now, you don’t get to say, okay, we’re going to get around to it”. No, this needs to happen now. Needs to be immediate. There is no time for volunteer beginning.

Melissa Romero:

You’re here.

Miriam Eide:

And I think just to echo that, I think we’ve seen with the pension funds, they’re always going to come up with another argument. Another reason that for some reason, it’s financially irresponsible, some other lie that the fossil fuel companies will feed them to continue to drag their feet. Even today, even yesterday, when we were reaching out through social media, through emails, they’ve given us bogus excuses. We know that they’re showing up to the hearing on this bill tomorrow to say that it’s a bad idea. And it’s too late for us to wait for them. In reality, it’s too late for us to wait for them to finish divesting through a bill. But that is our best avenue to get them take action. And it is the only way that they will take action because we know that politically that’s just not their style. They don’t want to limit their portfolio. They don’t want to take responsibility for how they’ve influenced the world that we live in.

Melissa Romero:

Anything else. Well, thank you so much for all of those testimonies and words. And that bill SB 1173 is being heard tomorrow in the Senate Judiciary Committee. So, we definitely want to make sure people know to support. Did you all want to say any last words about how people can support this effort before we move on to Senator [inaudible 00:14:59].

Miriam Eide:

Totally. So, one last word on support. I have a few flyers here if you’re interested in learning some of the details. If you’re really interested in some of the studies and stuff that back up, the financial and economic arguments of divestment. I have them all sided here. In addition, if you do have time tomorrow afternoon or evening, and you’re able to show up for the hearing and give a statement of support, there is a Bitly link that you can go to get a notification when it’s time to call in. It is @bitly/rsvp1173. So, that’s rsvp1173, all lowercase.

Melissa Romero:

Thank you all so much. So hello, Senator Wiener. Thank you so much for being here to talk about these two really important bills. So, we talked a bit about the Divestment Bill and about how scaling the climate solutions to the climate crisis requires us to transform every sector of our economy and to really transform our economy and the importance of corporate responsibility in that, especially when it comes to the policies we’re going to talk about today, which is requiring corporations to disclose the greenhouse gas emissions and requiring state pension funds to divest from fossil fuels. So, I want to ask you if you can introduce yourself to the audience and tell us a bit more about these policies and what the impact will be for climate and for Californians.

Senator Scott Wiener:

Great, thank you so much. And I want to thank our young people for your amazing advocacy, because this is our action or lack of action is going to have the greatest impact on you and future generations. And it’s just so important that we stop wasting time and start taking action and fixing this now. And there are a lot of things we have to do around more sustainable housing policy policies so we don’t have sprawl and we’re focusing development in sustainable areas and sustainable transportation and air quality regulations, but transparency is a key part of it. And I think right now, I think a lot of people want to do the right thing, but they don’t always know how, because they don’t have enough information. And there’s not a whole lot of transparency, particularly in the corporate sector in terms of what companies are doing or not doing to reduce their own carbon footprint…

Senator Scott Wiener:

And we have a lot of green washing going on where we have corporations up, put out a lot of slick green marketing and promote certain things that they’re doing, but they’re not giving a complete picture of what their total carbon footprint is. And so you can have a company that is viewed as green because of their marketing, but when you look at what their actual carbon footprint is, it can be pretty bad. And so Senate Bill 260, which has passed the Senate and with great coalition behind it, including Sunrise and is now pending in the assembly, will help do that. It applies to corporations with gross annual revenue of a billion dollars or more both publicly and privately held as long as they’re doing business in California. And they will have to disclose their entire carbon footprint, including their four operations. Their power usage, as well as what we call scope three, which is everything else, including their supply chain…

Senator Scott Wiener:

And this will require them to be completely transparent about their entire carbon footprint and will not allow them to contract out their carbon emissions to third party suppliers. And then pretend like that’s not really part of their corporate carbon footprint. And so this bill and then will have to be [inaudible 00:19:10] so that they can’t pull a fast one. And the bill, I think has the possibility of being really transformative in terms of requiring corporate America to be both transparent. But then of course there will be enormous pressure for them to actually be green, because consumers will care. Investors will care and it will help us learn in terms of potential future regulation that, wow, this is an industry that we didn’t realize was so carbon intensive. It’ll have a lot of really beneficial impacts, not surprisingly the corporate world with some exceptions, there are corporations by the way that disclose nothing…

Senator Scott Wiener:

There are corporations that make disclosures, but they’re either incomplete or we don’t have confidence that they’re complete. And then there are corporations that we are pretty confident are comprehensively disclosing. And there are sometimes corporations that are not always the ones that we love so much. Walmart, Pepsi. There are some big corporations that actually [inaudible 00:20:20] to take this very seriously. And from what we can tell, do a good job. Unfortunately, most large corporations don’t fall in that category. So, we want to make sure that for the corporations that are voluntarily doing the right thing now, but they’re not put in a competitive disadvantage. That there’s a level playing field. And so, we’re getting good momentum on the bill, but corporate America is really pushing back. Also, because they know that they all do business in California. And if you’re not, if you’re an Amazon or whatever else, you’re not going to stop doing business in California…

Senator Scott Wiener:

So, this will have a huge impact on corporate America, I think generally. The FCC has put out a draft rule on carbon disclosure. Then it’s really great that federal government is moving in that direction. That does not avoid the need for SB 260. The SCC rule is good, but it’s not as good or as comprehensive as SB 260. We also know the next president, if we go in a certain direction, could revoke that. And in fact, as we saw when Donald Trump took office in 2017, one of the first things he did was repeal just a slew of Obama environmental regulations. In addition, pretty confident there’s already been noise that states where others will sue and claim that the SCC doesn’t have the authority to do that. And of course the Supreme Court is not the greatest when it comes to Federal Agency Regulations…

Senator Scott Wiener:

So, we think it’s really important for California to lead here and really want to just thank our entire coalition include including Cal Fire Voters and Sunrise and Carbon Accountable. It’s really been inspiring. And in terms of divestment, that I’m honored to be the joint author on that bill with Senator Gonzalez who’s in the lead. It’s just long pass due for California pension funds to get out of the fossil fuel business. And it can be done. There are plenty of examples of different investment funds that have diagnostic are divesting. And we should have done this a while ago. It’s never too late and California needs to… We need to put our money where our mouth is. And our pension funds both CalPERS and CalSTRS are two of the largest anywhere. And it will have a huge impact. Of course there’s big pushback, but I think we have a path to get built past.

Melissa Romero:

Thank you so much for that. So, I have another question for you about both of these bills Senate Bill 260, the Climate Corporate Accountability Act and SB 1173 on divesting state pension funds from fossil fuels. So, can you speak to how and why voluntary action on these issues is not enough and has not been enough and the importance of California setting itself apart from the rest of the nation, in setting the standard for policies like greenhouse gas emissions reporting and divestment from fossil fuels.

Senator Scott Wiener:

I mean, I think we’ve learned from the history of environmental goals that voluntary regulations or asking corporations to take voluntary steps. It doesn’t really work. To be clear, there are corporations that want to do the right thing and do the right thing. So, I’m not trying to tar every corporation. And we should really connect those corporations. But they’re not the majority, they’re a rather small minority. And especially here and we just say pretty, please, we do this. It’s not going to have a huge impact. And when it comes to transparency, it only works if everyone is doing it. So, if a small percentage of companies are doing a good job disclosing, that’s great for them, but that’s not good for the overall goal. And here in particular, it’s even worse than that. It’s not that, okay, some companies are doing the right thing and companies aren’t, but at least better than nothing…

Senator Scott Wiener:

Well, what’s harmful is that, it’s not that there are companies that are not disclosing. There are companies that are affirmatively misrepresenting their carbon footprint. So, by not requiring them to make a complete and accurate disclosure, we allow a number of companies to affirmatively misrepresent. And to portray themselves as green when they are not, or to do partial disclosures. Not only disclose what’s convenient. And so, and the supply chain is a key part of that, and that just because the biggest [inaudible 00:25:49] in corporate community that they’re going to have to disclose carbon emissions from their supply chains. So, their core operations may not be that carbon intensive, but they’ve contracted out so much other carbon footprint, third party suppliers, that’s where their footprint lies and they want to hide that. So, we need consistency and that’s what a requirement will do.

Melissa Romero:

Thank you. So, I have a question for all of our panelists. So, I’m hoping that we can talk about, kind of on the positive note, of what is the opportunity that have, and the benefits that we’ll see with policies like Senate Bill 260 and Senate Bill 1173 on divesting our pension funds from fossil fuels, on requiring corporations to disclose or greenhouse gas footprints. What are the benefits that we can see from these policies and what are the things that we stand to gain? So I’ll start with you all over there.

Miriam Eide:

Sure. So, I would say that one of the major gains of SB 1173 and the Divestment Bill, is that we are joining a force of 40 trillion dollars that have already been divested from fossil fuels. We are adding to the impact of fossil fuels strength being undermined by investors across the world. And we are saying as a state, that not only are we going to stand in alliance with them, but we are going to allow pensions, which are the largest two pensions in the country. And the CalPERS pension is the eighth largest in the world to model for other large investors. What it looks like to divest from fossil fuels…

Miriam Eide:

And I think it also, for other states in across the country that have used the divestment legislation as a model to push to divestment less often, it really creates a template for other states to follow in suit. I know with Fossil Free California, I’ve already worked with several organizations across the country, in Minnesota and in Oregon, for example, who’ve been asking us what is the language that you’ve used for divestment and because divestment around coal has already happened. And we know that this is something that our pensions are responsive to. They get to see a model of what does it look like when the legislature takes the lead and enforces and creates a standard for what good investment looks like.

Melissa Romero:

So, the question is what do we stand to benefit and gain as a State in California and the individuals who live here on this policy?

Christopher Soriano:

For sure. I’d like to add on to what Miriam said. So, then definitely California, if we were to pass legislation that would force the pension funds to divest from the fossil fuel industry, that would definitely continue the chain movement of pensions divesting from fossil fuels and from industries that are unsustainable for our future and for the future generations and the future of our planet. And definitely it can lead to, from my personal experience, it can definitely lead some less on stress and it can help us youth focus on something more another important topic about another topic, that’s related to climate justice, but different from the pensions, I guess, from fossil fuels.

Sim Bilal:

Well I think definitely the impact of divestment can’t be understated when it comes to some instances like the political sphere. So many of the politicians right now in LA, are taking fossil fuel money and they cannot accurately represent the constituents if they’re being influenced by these fossil fuel corporations. Divestment sends out the message that, California will no longer be committed to fossil fuel industry infrastructure, that we want and we need to transition to clean energy infrastructure. Something that comes to mind recently, is what with if my Assembly Members Mike Gibson was recently called out for publicly by member of the community for taking fossil fuel money. Instead of listening to her and being receptive to the feedback, instead he bubbled down and said, “how dare you come at me like that? How dare you criticize me for taking fossil fuel money”? My constituents, they don’t care about fossil fuel infrastructure…

Sim Bilal:

They don’t care that I’m taking fossil fuel money and that’s a lie. He’s supposed to represent me and I care deeply by the fact that he’s corrupted by fossil fuel money. Divestment would send a message to these assembly members, to these representatives, to these people, that claim that they have our best interests, that they are not representing us when they continue to take fossil fuel money. It stretches far beyond just pension funds. It stretches through every aspect of the possible industry, but they can no longer keep influencing our politics, our lives, our future…

Sim Bilal:

Besides just divestment from the puzzle, from the pensions, we would see this impact echo across the globe. As I said before, we found out that CalSTRS and CalPERS money was investing in what’s within pipeline recreation. So, it’s investing in indigenous genocide. It’s investing in extraction, [inaudible 00:31:21], and it’s going for behind California. And we should make an example. This is not okay. Like we can do better. We will do better. We need to do better.

Melissa Romero:

So, Senator Wiener, let’s talk about corporate accountability and just what we stand to gain and benefit as Californians and as a state, in addressing climate crisis and creating a safer future for everyone who lives here on this planet with California. Can you talk about what we stand to benefit and gain from both of these policies being in place?

Senator Scott Wiener:

So, as I mentioned before, even though for SB 260, we can only regulate companies to do business in California. The reality is that for large corporations, that’s the bulk of them. So, we’re talking, I think five or 6000 corporations that would have to file. And that will just put immense pressure among them to clean themselves up, because you don’t want to be one of those companies that’s on the dirty list. You want to be on the clean list. So, transparency has so many benefits and put enormous pressure. And I think that we will pretty quickly see significant moves by these corporations. So, when Uber has to disclose the carbon footprint, it will include the carbon footprint of everyone who’s driving group. So, they resisted the transition to zero emission vehicles that resistance will go away. It’s going to be in their interest not to be labeled dirty, same with Amazon…

Senator Scott Wiener:

So, I think there will be pretty quick benefits and consumers will be able to see, okay, these two competitors, one is clean and one isn’t, I’m going to buy from a clean one. Or someone might say, you know what? This industry is inherently carbon intensive, and they’re all carbon intensive. And I didn’t realize that about this industry. So, I’m going to try to avoid whatever that product is, to the extent that I can. So, it’ll be very educational for members of the public and also for investors. So, I think it’ll be really beneficial.

Melissa Romero:

Okay. So, we are now going to move to questions from the audience. So, does anybody in the audience have a question for any of our speakers about corporate accountability or the two policies we’ve heard about today?

Speaker 7:

I’m Tony [inaudible 00:34:04] and first just super inspired by your guys’ focus. There’s very few people that I think get engaged in policy and to actually support bill these strong advocates as you guys are, is awesome. So, first I want to say that. The second is that policy is hard. And so it’s a statement that both legislation from the Senator who know best is complicated. And so without making any statements, I just wanted to talk about the, not the most exciting topic as well, but if the legislation does not pass on the corporate accountability, what are some other options for people such as maybe the students here that he might recommend in California outside?

Speaker 7:

Cause I know that legislation is one side. We work a lot on the administrative side as well and figuring out what state agencies can do. There’s a lot of conversation here about the scoping plan, which I think has been too much emphasis in the state. There’s other places like [inaudible 00:35:02]. That’s also been mentioned where there’s just as many amazing things that you guys can work on. But actually I guess my question is targeted more to the Senator. I want to be an optimist, but what other options do you think might be there to push some of the great ideas that you have forward?

Senator Scott Wiener:

I mean, I think we have a real shot at passing the legislation and would be shameful that [inaudible 00:35:24] die. The legislature has a pretty poor record in recent years on climate legislation and oil industry and its allies have way too much power in the legislature. But with that said, we got out of Senate, that was a big lift. And I think we have a path in the assembly. If the bill passes an assigned to law, we’ll have to make sure it’s implemented well. And the companies are being audited in the way that they are required to be. And that we’re holding companies accountable for complying with the law…

Senator Scott Wiener:

We have to keep an eye on all of our executive agencies, to make sure that they are implementing and enforcing the law. That is always an issue with everything, that every law that we pass, you have to make sure it’s actually being enforced. If it doesn’t pass, I mean obviously we would need to make sure that the SCC rule goes into effect and defend it. I’m really worried about how it would do in the courts potentially. And I think there are ways to put public pressure on companies to disclose. But again, when it’s voluntary, there are just limits to what we do.

Melissa Romero:

Any other questions for our speakers?

Speaker 8:

Are there any ways that we can help pass?

Miriam Eide:

Sure. I can start off. So, as the 1173 is going to the second committee hearing tomorrow, it’s going to the Judiciary Committee. And if your legislator is in the Judiciary Committee, please call us today and let them know that you would like them to support divestment. But in addition to that, we are looking to get as many people as possible and call in and support of the bill. We do know that the building trades and the fossil fuel companies are turning out as many people as they can to oppose the bill…

Miriam Eide:

This is something we expected to see, but it just means that it’s all the more important that our showing is even bigger than theirs. And to show that the people support divestment. So, if you’re interested in showing up, we know that the bill is going to be in the middle of a long list of other bills. I will send you a text or an email. If you fill out the form @bitly/rsvp1173, to let you know when it’s a good time to call in. Otherwise, if you sign up for the newsletter on Fossil Free California’s website, we send periodic updates about the status of the bill and how to continue to get involved.

Senator Scott Wiener:

I think, everyone knows people around the state and it’s really important for both of these bills, for people who care, get them just to call both the Senator and their Assembly Member. Cause they get out committee, but things go well the entire Senate to have to vote on the entire assembly will have to vote on it. And making sure people are reaching out. A lot of times [inaudible 00:38:33] in San Francisco who are, I want to call people. I’m like, okay, that’s great. Your San Francisco representatives are all good, help all these things. One thing that’s not effective is for people who don’t live in a district to be calling into that district. I know when I left bills that right [inaudible 00:38:59] are calling in posing, we’re getting flood calls. And then my staff will tell me, at 90, we had 350 calls and 347 were from outside of the district. We know that, okay, for me, they’re not my constituents. And so it’s important to try to identify people in those districts. So, that, is impactful.

Melissa Romero:

And if anyone here has a direct line of Senator Tom Umberg, who is the Chair of Senate Judiciary Committee for the bill be here tomorrow SB 1173, can we give a call and let them know is an important issue for you? Just a suggestion. You got a question over here. Did you want to go?

Speaker 9:

I had a question. Just, I know that a lot of corporations are emphasizing ESG or Environmental, Social and Governance initiatives in their companies. What does the bill want to do to enforce that these companies are ill to their [inaudible 00:40:01], to define in terms of making these of essence

Senator Scott Wiener:

For the carbon transparency, it’s significant. They have to make a disclosure every year. It has to be audited and there are audit firms, this is what they do. And, so they can’t pull fast one. And then it goes up on the Secretary of State website. And so you’ll be able to go in any, these companies in a database and figure out what their carbon footprint is and ultimately want to, there will be outside groups that will pull that data and make it sliceable and [inaudible 00:40:42] so you can probably compare within industries and between industries and so on and so forth.

Melissa Romero:

Any other questions from the audience I see in hand?

Speaker 10:

This disclosure of transparency stuff is important and a crucial first step. But when I’ve spoken to people involved in the CalPERS management and they come back with this answer about their fiduciary responsibility. Basically, only to maximize return on investment for the retirees. And it strikes me as very similar to a very narrow definition of corporate responsibility that CEOs at Milton Friedman and whatnot adopted in the seventies and eighties. Whereas, if you look, in fifties and sixties, the CEO would say they’re responsible to the shareholders and the customers and the employees, all of these stakeholders. And they have to balance these interests. How can we get CalPERS and CalSTRS management to view their fiduciary responsibility to the future. Not just to the financial returns, but maybe to the grandkids of the retirees, who they should be looking out for also. Is there a way to tweak their definition or their mental outlook on responsibility?

Senator Scott Wiener:

I think there’s a move within the corporate world. I don’t think it’s enough, but there are more and more business leaders that are advocating for that. But the problem is that, if you are a CEO who wants to do that, who believes in that, there are enormous pressures not to do that, because you might get ousted, right. You’re not producing enough for the shareholders. Cause there is still Wall Street is a very powerful force. And so, that’s why I don’t think laws can solve everything. And the more we can encourage and push a culture shift it in corporate America. And I think it is happening and I think it will accelerate, but laws have a way of pushing that along. That, okay, now you have to do this. And it bolsters that mentality. Cause now a CEO can be like, okay, I want to do this. I’m getting this pushback. I don’t want to lose my job, but we’re going to be so embarrassed if we have to start disclosing that we’re using the dirtiest possible supply chain. Right. And so it’s just, I think it helps to shift the dynamic.

Miriam Eide:

And I think I add to that amongst CalPERS and CalSTRS specifically, we do hear that argument all the time, like it’s against of our fiduciary duty, but the reality is its just patently false. Their fiduciary duty fits perfectly with divestment. If you look at BlackRock and [inaudible 00:43:46] reports, I have them linked in this document, if you’re curious, they have shown that across their entire portfolios. There’s no difference in return on investment or a slightly beneficial return on investment with divestment, from fossil fuels…

Miriam Eide:

And then in addition to that, Fossil Free California worked with the Corporate Knights to do a study specifically on the CalPERS and CalSTRS portfolios. And they showed that the opportunity cost of not divesting in 2009, led to both pensions collectively missing out on 18 billion dollars of returns by the year 2019. So, it’s really showing that even now before fossil fuel industry has collapsed, which I would expect it will, there’s enormous benefit to getting out of fossil fuels. And I can only imagine that benefit’s going to grow as we all continue to advocate for fossil fuel collapse. It’s not the future. It’s not going to work for us, for anyone.

Melissa Romero:

I would just add to this conversation with a point about there are some social issues that government has a really important role, in scaling and accelerating action where it’s needed. And sometimes that is before the public narrative comes along with it. With the climate crisis, we are seeing the public narrative very much supporting climate action. And people want to see companies that they’re buying, from universities that they go to. I mean, across the board, you see people demanding climate action. And so we’ve seen that really shift. Senator Wiener is mentioning in the corporate world, where it really pays to be environmental and be sustainable and have that green logo or tagline and companies are taking notice of that. And they’re already shifting to those practices or maybe they’re just words right now. So, it’s critical that the state play a role in accelerating that and feeling that for sure. Are there any other questions from the audience?

Speaker 11:

One billion dollars thought is a pretty high threshold. Why one billion?

Senator Scott Wiener:

It is, but it does capture it’s gross revenue. So, it captures really any sizable companies going to be captured and sure you can set a different threshold. One of the attacks on the bill is the burden of smaller businesses. And honestly, when you look at what we think is going to be the lion share of corporate emissions, it’s not in a hundred million dollar companies, it’s in those really large mega companies with massive sprawling operations.

Speaker 11:

And you said there were five to 6,000 of those that operate in California?

Senator Scott Wiener:

Public and private. Some I think it was like 5 or 2000. [crosstalk 00:46:42]. It’s a lot, it’s a big move. Again. Those are all the biggest companies in America.

Melissa Romero:

And just to add onto the question, the point you made, a lot of these very large corporations that do exceed that billion dollar threshold of gross annual revenues, have a really big impact on the supply chain. And so they’re contracting out with so many different companies to make their business work. And that really does mean that their supply chain is going to have a huge greenhouse gas footprint. And so what we’ve seen, and looking at the different scopes, one and two emissions, which are more of like the onsite facilities and within the companies, their own operations versus the scope three emissions, which are supply chain. Those tend to be up to 11.4 times higher than scopes one and two emissions. So, we’re talking about a significant portion of emissions that large corporations particularly, have a huge role to play in reducing because they are contracting with so many companies and in a lot of cases, especially the largest companies. I see another question. Did we have anyone who hasn’t asked a question yet before we go back? Okay. Go ahead.

Speaker 9:

This is just more of a devil’s advocate question, but how do you strike the right balance between requirements? Like you say, scope two and scope three and preventing companies from, from relocating to other places where the laws are less stringent.

Senator Scott Wiener:

Well, to be clear, but this isn’t based on where your headquarters. So, this is not going to cause fake scam relocation like what Elon Musk did. A fake relocation. He’s still doing plenty of business in California, the state that actually funded his existence. But so this is not about where companies headquarter, this is about where you do business operations. So, they want to stop doing business in the largest economy in the world. That’s their choice. But I don’t think any of them is going to do that. So, they can do a fake tax reorganization and move their headquarters elsewhere, but that won’t have any impact on their requirement to comply with this law. And so this law will not cause that.

Melissa Romero:

Any questions from our audience. Okay. Well, why don’t we go back and just talk more about… I want to make sure that any points that you all want to make for our audience today about the importance of the urgency, impact of policies like Senate Bill 260 and 1173. Have the importance of people getting engaged in this policy change that’s been proposed. That we have a pretty uphill battle to pass through California legislature because like Senator Wiener mentioned, California legislature hasn’t been a place that has seen a lot of major climate policy passed and onto the governor’s desk. So, we’re up against some serious opposition, the fossil fuel industry first and foremost, and their allies. So, what else do we want this audience to know about the effort that you all are involved in? Why it’s important? What they can do? What this policy does for the sake? Anything else you want to add?

Christopher Soriano:

Just to add, the fossil fuel industry have a lot of power, but in numbers. There’s a lot of power through sharing and the youth movement for like climate justice and for environmental justice. That’s just going on to, also fighting for intersectionality for racial justice and everything else. A lot of problems in our society right now. One thing we’ll add on to the other, but then in string through our numbers, so from support with our audience right now, then also our [inaudible 00:50:58]. We can make a difference for the better of our future and definitely for future generations to come.

Miriam Eide:

You want to repeat the question?

Melissa Romero:

We’re just making sure any final points you want to make for our audience about the impact, the importance, how they can get involved.

Sim Bilal:

Definitely would appreciate your guys’ support tomorrow and helping pass SB 1173. This divestment goal I think, has been initiated for eight years. And each year it keeps getting pushed up in a different form. And I think at this point we realize how critical it is. It needs to pass and how this is something that wouldn’t grow really into effect until 2024, right? Where, we, look at exactly how their portfolios being invested. And then in 2027, when they can no longer invest in fossil fuel industry. So, this is not a rapid transition. This is something that is going to be gradual. And we have time to adapt. They’re claiming that they won’t have time to adapt, but simply false. I think definitely we have seen a weakening in the climate movement since the pandemic hit. A lot of people, especially young people, studies are just coming out that we’re struggling with race, depression and anxiety and suicide and a bunch of other really non great things…

Sim Bilal:

And there’s a reason for it. Our society is on the brink of collapse, because we have let corporations run us for too many years and their power is growing. It’s time that we stand up and people really unite underneath the power that we have as a collective. It’s not just on the young people. I think we like that our voices are being uplifted and recognizing the power of a youth movement. But then understanding that everyone has a place in this and everyone needs to be a climate activist. Everyone needs to step up and hold these corporations accountable. We will not see climate justice. And that’s just the facts. Definitely talking to your friends and family and making sure people understand that this is not a sort of a battle with, that’s pointless. It doesn’t have any, you have power when your voice and we power as a collective.

Miriam Eide:

And to end that on more of a hopeful note, I know that as I’ve been working on the SB 1173 Divestment Bill, I have never seen in the years of work around divestment, such a large coalition to come home together. And I definitely haven’t seen the outpouring of support from labor in the way that we’ve seen with the Divestment Bill. I think it’s been a really powerful tool for building a coalition. And I’m really thankful to so many of your organizations for supporting and signing onto the bill and continuing to show up and turn people out. I think that’s how we, as a community of environmental organizers, as a larger community of Californians will continue to make headway with the climate, is that we’ll continue to show up together, support one another and ultimately win a future for us all.

Senator Scott Wiener:

I can’t say any better than that.

Melissa Romero:

Thank you so much to all of you for being here. I want to just close with adding on to the point that Chris made. There is this narrative that the environmental movement, that climate action is largely for coastal communities, largely for white communities. And this really does not represent the issues that we’re facing today with pollution exposure, with the impacts of the climate crisis, with so much of what we’re seeing impacting youth, impacting black indigenous people of color the most, people who aren’t running corporations, people who aren’t benefiting from fossil fuel investments in state pension funds…

Melissa Romero:

We stand to gain the most from climate action. And I think that’s just such a critical point of all of this, is changing the narrative to really center the people who we really need to support in terms of, what are the policies that we’re pushing for, who are they going to benefit and how is climate action going to benefit us as a society and who it impacts the most when we don’t do enough? So, I just want to thank you all for being here. Thank you Senator, for being here. I know it’s a busy committee hearing week, so hopefully we’ll see SB 260 and SB 1173 pass into law this year. And I hope that you all will help us to do that, because it’s rough out here for us climate activists. But, we’re going to keep going. So thank you all. And we have to be out.