OAKLAND, Calif., April 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This tax day, millions of Americans will gain some tax benefit and peace of mind by contributing to their retirement plan. But many Americans are worried about the financial risk of owning fossil fuel companies in their 401(k) plans. Over 20,000 people recently signed a petition calling on American firms to offer fossil free 401(k) options.
A coalition led by Divest Invest Individual, Environmental Action, Fossil Free Funds, and HIP Investor, warns that 401(k) plans which rely on fossil fuel investments threaten the future of our planet, and could jeopardize the long-term returns that retirees expect. American workers have more than $4.4 trillion invested in 401(k)s and similar retirement plans.
"Coal, oil, and gas are increasingly risky investments, particularly for people on fixed incomes," said Vanessa Green, Director of the Divest Invest Individual campaign engaging individual investors in fossil fuel divestment and sustainable reinvestment. "Demand for lower risk fossil free options is there."
But the largest 401(k) plans offer few to no options for employees desiring a socially responsible portfolio free of oil, gas, and coal producers. An analysis by Fossil Free Funds, an online tool that measures the climate risk of mutual funds, found only one option in the 100 largest public company 401(k)s that is both a socially responsible investment and free of the top 200 coal and oil/gas reserve holders.
As Peabody Coal files for bankruptcy and ExxonMobil spends more on its dividends than its current cash flow, the financial risks associated with fossil fuel investments increases. "If your 401(k) portfolio invests in fossil fuel producers, then your retirement nest egg could suffer higher risk and potentially lower returns," says R. Paul Herman, CEO of HIP Investor (Human Impact + Profit), which rates 15,000 stocks, bonds and mutual funds, and advises investors and 401(k)s on how to realize higher impact portfolios. "401(k) fiduciaries need to focus on the forward-looking risks of the funds their firm is offering, and seek to add funds with cleaner energy solutions for the 21st century."
"Fossil fuels are over," said Drew Hudson, Director of Environmental Action. "American retirees shouldn't be left holding the bag."
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SOURCE Fossil Free Funds; Divest Invest Individual