Announcement Furthers Collaborative Efforts by the Governor and Comptroller to Protect the State's Retirement Fund From the Risks of Climate Change and Support a More Sustainable, Clean Energy Economy
Important Step in Advancing the Governor's State of the State Proposal to Further Decarbonize the State Pension Fund and Identify Clean Energy Opportunities
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the members of the state's first-ever Decarbonization Advisory Panel, which was initially proposed by the Governor during his 2018 State of the State address in January. The panel will advise the Comptroller, as trustee of the $209.1 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund), on how best to mitigate investment risks stemming from climate change and maximize opportunities from the new, low-carbon economy.
"To address the risks of climate change, New York will continue to take bold action to invest in the use of renewable resources, support the growth of sustainable businesses, and help build a clean energy economy," Governor Cuomo said. "We look forward to this panel's recommendations on how best to decarbonize the pension fund in a way that will secure retirement for hardworking New Yorkers and help support the overall health of the state's economy and protect our environment for generations to come."
"The New York State Common Retirement Fund is a leader among public pension funds in analyzing the impact of climate change on our investments. We've taken proactive, aggressive steps to shift our investments to cleaner companies and seek out those capitalizing on new technologies and opportunities," Comptroller DiNapoli said. "We are managing climate risk to keep our pension fund strong and protect the retirement savings of more than one million public employees, retirees and their families. I look forward to hearing the panel's suggestions on how we can continue our progress in achieving investment returns, while contributing to our emerging low-carbon economy."
The panel, which is comprised of investment, financial, environmental, energy and legal experts, will advise the Comptroller on how, consistent with his fiduciary duties, the Fund can further decarbonize its portfolio and identify possible investment opportunities in clean and renewable energy and other emerging industries.
The panel will evaluate strategies including: expanding the Fund's low-carbon index for public equity holdings, divesting from significant fossil fuel holdings, and using New York Green Bank and other organizations to invest in New York's green economy. The panel will also look at what other pension funds and investors have done to decarbonize their assets. The panel's recommendations will be advisory in nature.
Members of the advisory panel include:
Cary Krosinsky: Mr. Krosinsky teaches about the theory and practice of sustainable investing at Brown University. He is also lecturer at the Yale School of Management and a faculty advisory committee member of the energy studies program at Yale College. Mr. Krosinsky is a co-founder and director of the Carbon Tracker Initiative and Real Impact Tracker, principal at NPV Associates and sustainability advisor at BlueSky Investment Management. He is also an author and editor of the Journal of Environmental Investing.
Bevis Longstreth: Twice appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve as a commissioner on the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Longstreth currently serves on the Investment Committee of the New School University and as an adviser to the Kentucky Teachers Pension Fund. He previously chaired the investment committee of the Nathan Cummings Foundation and for many years served on the board of trustees of the College Retirement Equities Fund, the board of directors of Grantham, Mayo & Von Otterloo, and the Pension Finance Committee of the World Bank.
Alicia Seiger: Deputy Director of Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy, Policy and Finance at Stanford University, Ms. Seiger leads sustainable and energy finance initiatives at Stanford's Law School, Graduate School of Business, and Precourt Institute for Energy. Ms. Seiger serves on the board of CERES, a leading sustainability organization and founded "Investing in a New Climate," a workshop series for asset owners to investigate data sources, tools and strategies for managing climate investment risk, and capitalizing on innovation opportunities.
George Serafeim: Jakurski Family Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, Mr. Serafeim is a director at the High Meadows Institute, a co-founder and senior partner of KKS Advisors, and a former Standards Council Member at the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board.
Tim Smith: Director of ESG Shareowner Engagement at Walden Asset Management, Mr. Smith leads Walden's ongoing shareholder engagement program to promote greater corporate leadership on environmental, social, and governance issues. This includes company dialogues, shareholder proposals, proxy voting, and public policy advocacy. Among the areas Walden focuses on are sustainability reporting, political spending and lobbying, board diversity, executive compensation and governance, climate change, supply chain standards, water use and human rights. Previously, Mr. Smith served as executive director of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility for 24 years. ICCR coordinates corporate responsibility programs for over 300 religious, institutional investors committed to using shareholder advocacy to influence corporate conduct and promote social justice.
Joy Williams: Currently a senior advisor for Zizzo Strategy, Ms. Williams previously established the responsible investing framework and acted as the in-house climate change subject matter expert at Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, one of the world's largest institutional investors. A professional engineer and a chartered alternative investment analyst, Ms. Williams focuses on identifying the relevance of climate change to an organization's strategy and exploring pragmatic solutions. Previous experience includes education and thought leadership on climate change and the development of responsible investing frameworks across asset classes including private equity, infrastructure, real estate, credit and public equities.
New York State's Efforts to Combat Climate Change
Under Governor Cuomo New York State has been a national leader in addressing the risks presented by climate change. On the day after the federal government announced its intention to pull out of the Paris Climate accords, New York joined with California and Washington State to co-found the U.S. Climate Alliance, a 16-member alliance representing approximately 40 percent of U.S. gross domestic product ($7.4 trillion). New York has also mandated a Clean Energy Standard for half of its electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030, complementing Governor Cuomo's ambitious Reforming the Energy Vision strategy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency and is ensuring that New York reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and achieves the internationally-recognized target of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. To learn more about REV, including the Governor's $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, please visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow us at @Rev4NY.
New York State Common Retirement Fund
The New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third largest public pension fund in the United States with estimated assets of $209.1 billion as of Dec. 31, 2017. The Fund holds and invests the assets of the New York State and Local Retirement System on behalf of more than one million state and local government employees and retirees and their beneficiaries. It has consistently been ranked as one of the best managed and best funded plans in the nation. It was recognized as the top U.S. investor, and third globally, for its efforts to combat climate change by the Asset Owners Disclosure Project. The Fund's fiscal year ends March 31, 2018. Learn more about sustainable investing at nyscomp.org/2ERolCo.