Canadian wildfires hung low over the skyline of New York, as campaigners from TIAA-divest, Toxic Bonds and Action Aid stood outside the Bloomberg Invest conference where CEO of TIAA, Thasunda Duckett Brown was speaking.
Chants of “TIAA listen up, Planets burning, Time is up!” filled the air, and leaflets explained TIAA’s abject failure to reign in fossil fuel investments.
TIAA’s bespoke strategy to escalate the climate crisis includes:
- $78 billion invested in coal, oil and gas.
- The world’s 4th largest holder of coal bonds and 8th largest holder of oil and gas bonds.
- Investing $1 billion in ConocoPhillips, the company building the devastating Willow Project in Alaska.
16 university faculties and unions (so far) and the 1.7 million member American Federation of Teachers have called on TIAA to divest from fossil fuels.
Adani is the world’s largest private developer of coal and TIAA along with its subsidiary Nuveen holds over $140 million USD in Adani’s bonds. It doesn’t matter that Adani has been exposed for expanding coal, fuelling climate devastation and committing human rights violations. Hindenburg Research has also revealed it as committing “one of the largest corporate frauds in history” with allegations of corruption, money laundering and stock manipulation. Even Adani’s touted green company are not ring-fenced and instead are funneling money into coal expansion.
Adani has been exposed for expanding coal, fuelling climate devastation and committing human rights violations. Hindenburg Research has also revealed it is committing “one of the largest corporate frauds in history” with allegations of corruption, money laundering and stock manipulation. Even Adani’s touted green company are not ring-fenced and instead are funneling money into coal expansion. Revelations over the past few months and Adani’s disregard for good corporate governance and transparency makes them a risky and irresponsible investment. But TIAA’s loyalty to Adani’s bonds is the quintessence of its love for fossil fuels.
A master in greenwashing: defining deforestation as carbon offset.
TIAA engages in massive environmental and social justice public relations that distracts customers from its colossal fossil fuel investments. It claims that it is working towards net zero, and this includes a strategy of land acquisition in the name of offsetting emissions from continued investment in fossil fuels.
In fact, TIAA is a global leader in owning land leased for large scale agribusiness and timber with 30,0000 acres of land in Brazil. The farms were bought from alleged land grabbers in Brazil, which resulted in deforestation and displacement of traditional communities. These lands are part of Brazil’s Cerrado, the planet’s most biologically rich savanna, nurturing about five percent of the world’s plant and animal species, until they were taken over and converted to soybean cultivation.
Retiring the future
TIAA’s climate report Ensuring our Future was released in December 2022. But the report excludes the term “fossil fuels”. There is no mention of the connection between fossil fuels and climate change and decarbonization is never presented as one of the company’s goals. TIAA is focused on its narrow vision of “Let’s go for profits today” while compromising the long-term security of your retirement and pensions.
TIAA is one of the largest and historically trusted investment advisory firms, managing more than a trillion dollars of assets, with 5 million customers across 15,000 institutions in North America. Whilst the firm has a long history (100 years +) and has built its reputation on “serving those who do good in the world” from teachers, janitors, professors, health professionals, it lost its not-for-profit status in 1997.
TIAA acquired Nuveen in 2014, which has since marked a period marred with scandal. TIAA are not living up to their charitable and benevolent reputation that they rely upon to acquire customers.