Oregon Treasurer Pledges to Decarbonize State Pension Fund By 2050

Tobias Read says he’ll have a comprehensive plan to meet Paris Agreement goals by early 2024.

Oregon’s Public Employee Pension Fund plans to transition its $90 billion investment portfolio to halve its carbon emissions by 2035 and become net-zero as a greenhouse gas-emitter by no later than 2050. Oregon joins a growing list of states that have pledged to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The pledge “is the first step in what will be a comprehensive and strategic effort to address the impacts of climate change on the funds we manage on behalf of Oregonians,” said Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read in a statement. “Our investment decisions must be driven by financial considerations and investment returns, not politics. The reality is we must reduce the risks that climate change poses to our investments.” 

Read, who also serves as the state’s chief investment officer, is among five voting members of the Oregon Investment Council. The other four voting members are appointed by the governor and approved by the Oregon Senate. Read said he will present to the OIC a comprehensive proposal to implement the net-zero plan by early 2024.

“Addressing the risk of climate change to our investments is critical to our mission to provide a secure retirement to Oregon’s teachers, firefighters, nurses, and other hardworking public servants,” Read’s statement added. “It will not happen overnight and must be done in a manner that acknowledges both the complexity of our global economy and the urgency of the emerging climate crisis.”

Read said the plan to reach net-zero status will center around four components consistent with his fiduciary responsibilities:


  • Outlining strategies for reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or earlier.
  • Establishing a baseline emissions measurement and key interim targets for managing climate risks, as well as methodologies and frameworks to gauge progress on meeting the targets and timelines.
  • Prioritizing a review of portfolio investments in carbon intensive activities, such as thermal coal, tar sands and natural gas derived from fracking.
  • Creating transparency and reporting mechanisms to demonstrate progress on meeting net-zero goals.


According to a decarbonization framework released by Read, the comprehensive proposal will also include an assessment of the feasibility of reaching net-zero by 2040 and any additional impacts on returns, costs and fiduciary challenges.

While his staff develops a net-zero plan for consideration by the OIC, Read said the state’s treasury department will accelerate its existing efforts to address climate risks within the state’s investment portfolio. He said this includes expanding existing investments in renewable energy and clean tech, more fully incorporating environmental, social and governance risks into portfolio management and partnering with other institutional investors to convince companies to address internal climate-related risks.


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