Cuomo Calls on Common Retirement Fund to Cease Fossil Fuel Investments

New York governor will partner with Comptroller DiNapoli to form fund advisory committee.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a proposal Tuesday calling for the $192.4 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund to cease future pension investments in companies linked to fossil fuels.

“New York has made incredible strides in securing a clean energy future for this state with our nation-leading clean energy standard, offshore wind development, and aggressive investment in the clean tech economy, yet the Common Fund remains heavily invested in the energy economy of the past. Moving the Common Fund away from fossil fuel investments will protect the retirement savings of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This proposal lays out a roadmap for New York’s $200 billion Common Fund to take responsible steps to divest from its fossil fuel holdings, leading to a more secure retirement fund for countless New Yorkers while also helping to achieve the state’s clean energy goals.”

Although Cuomo has no control over the fund as it is run by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the governor rolled out a 2018 proposal Tuesday that would see him partner with DiNapoli to form an advisory committee to help the fund achieve his goal.

“The New York State Common Retirement Fund is a leader among public pension funds that are investing to build a low-carbon economy and urging corporations to tackle climate risk. We’ve shown that shareholders have the power to compel major corporations, like ExxonMobil, to address climate change,” DiNapoli said in a statement.

DiNapoli expressed his openness to Cuomo’s proposal, citing the fund’s $2 billion low-carbon index, which shifts investments from carbon and oil companies to those that reduce their greenhouse gasses. While he will continue to manage the pension fund, DiNapoli also plans to expand the low-carbon index in 2018.

“The Fund’s commitment to sustainable investments is $5 billion and growing. For all of this and more, the state pension fund has been recognized as the top US investor, and third globally, for its climate change work by the Asset Owners Disclosure Project,” DiNapoli said. “While there are no immediate plans to divest our energy holdings, I welcome the opportunity to partner with Governor Cuomo and with the proposed advisory council to identify additional ways to continue our progress in achieving investment returns, while contributing to the emerging low-carbon economy.”

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