COLORADO — New data from shows over $800 Million in US Pension Funds, including Colorado’s Public Employees Retirement Association, is invested in Russia’s war chest. PERA withdrew $7.2M from a Russian bank after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine despite having for years indicated that PERA will not make decisions on divestment unless told to do so by the Colorado General Assembly, according to their Statement on Divestment.

In the wake of PERA’s recent decision to divest from Russian banks, Colorado’s Fossil Free PERA has submitted a formal appeal on Monday, March 7 to PERA calling for divestment from Russian oil and gas companies. According to’s recent report, Colorado’s PERA currently has at least $8.4 Million in at least five Russian oil and gas companies. 

Fossil Free PERA has submitted formal appeals calling for general fossil fuel divestment since at least 2019, outlining the fiduciary imperative to divest from fossil fuels and citing potential losses in returns, increased climate related financial risk, and mounting concerns over the growing climate crisis and adverse impacts of fossil fuel investments on local communities. 

Fossil Free PERA is once again asking PERA to divest its assets of fossil fuel companies, this time focusing on Russian oil and gas companies.  “Colorado’s PERA is investing public funds in ways that threaten the health, safety and wellbeing of people across the globe,” says Giselle Herzfeld of 350 Colorado and the Fossil Free PERA Coalition. “Across our state, communities are experiencing dangerous consequences from oil and gas drilling, and now PERA’s investments in Russian oil and gas are directly tied to an unjust invasion in Ukraine. The question should be, do we want our public money and pension funds supporting this?” 

Colorado’s PERA has come under scrutiny for its fossil fuel investments in Suncor and Extraction Oil and Gas, two fossil fuel companies that have a long history of dangerous pollution violations, particularly near lower income communities and communities of color. Over 850 letters have been sent to PERA Board, Director, and staff highlighting concerns and calling for divestment. 

A 2021 report by BlackRock examined hundreds of divestment actions of funds worldwide and concluded that portfolios experienced no negative financial impacts as a result of divesting from fossil fuels. In fact, they found evidence of improvement in returns for those funds.

“In light of Russia’s unjustified and illegal invasion of Ukraine, PERA should seize this opportunity to do the right thing and begin a process of fossil fuel divestment, beginning with Russian oil and gas companies,” says PERA member Kate Christensen.

This legislative session Sen. Chris Hansen has introduced a bill, SB22-138 “Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Colorado,” which calls on PERA to publish a climate risk assessment, and is up for a hearing on March 8th.

In April 2021, Colorado’s House Finance Committee heard HB21-1246 PERA Public Employees’ Retirement Association Divestment From Fossil Fuel Companies, which called on Colorado’s state pension fund (Public Employees Retirement Association) to divest from fossil fuel companies. Proponents of the bill argued that to not divest from fossil fuels not only fails to take bold action to address the climate crisis but also fails beneficiaries in choosing to ignore the mounting evidence that divested funds are outperforming those that have not. That bill did not move out of committee.   

Over 1,110 institutions have now committed to policies black-listing some combination of coal, oil, and gas investments due to mounting concern over climate and litigation risk and adverse public health impacts associated with fossil fuel investments. These include sovereign wealth funds, banks, global asset managers and insurance companies, cities, pension funds, health care organizations, universities, faith groups, foundations, and the country of Ireland. Furthermore, the UN Secretary General has advised pension funds to divest from fossil fuels. Over 145 pension funds have committed to divestment globally, and that number is growing each year.