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New York Creates Decarbonization Advisory Panel for State Retirement Fund

Decarbonize the State Pension Fund and Identify Clean Energy Opportunities is the panel’s goal
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced the members of the state’s first-ever Decarbonization Advisory Panel.

It 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 a low-carbon economy.

Gov. 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 [has] taken proactive, aggressive steps to shift our investments to cleaner companies,” 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.”

The panel is comprised of investment, financial, environmental, energy and legal experts who will advise the Comptroller on how the Fund can prudently decarbonize its portfolio and invest in clean and renewable energy and other emerging industries.

The panel will evaluate strategies including:

  1. Expanding the Fund’s low-carbon index for public equity holdings,
  2. Divesting from significant fossil fuel holdings,
  3. Using New York Green Bank and other organizations to invest in New York’s green economy.
  4. Look at other pension funds and investors have done to decarbonize assets.

The panel’s recommendations will be advisory in nature.

Members of the advisory panel include:

Cary Krosinsky:

  1. Teaches theory and practice of sustainable investing at Brown University.
  2. Lecturer at the Yale School of Management
  3. Faculty advisory committee member of energy studies at Yale.
  4. Co-founder and director of the Carbon Tracker Initiative and Real Impact Tracker, principal at NPV Associates
  5. Sustainability advisor at BlueSky Investment Management.
  6. Author and editor of the Journal of Environmental Investing.

Bevis Longstreth:

  1.  Twice appointed by President Ronald Reagan as commissioner on the United States Securities and Exchange Commission
  2. Serves on the Investment Committee of the New School University
  3. Adviser to the Kentucky Teachers Pension Fund.
  4. Previously chaired the investment committee of the Nathan Cummings Foundation
  5. Served on the board of trustees of the College Retirement Equities Fund,
  6. Served on board of directors of Grantham, Mayo & Von Otterloo,
  7. Served on board of Pension Finance Committee of the World Bank.

Alicia Seiger:

  1. Deputy Director of Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy, Policy and Finance at Stanford University
  2. Leads sustainable and energy finance initiatives at Stanford’s Law School, Graduate School of Business, and Precourt Institute for Energy.
  3. Serves on the board of CERES, a sustainability organization
  4.  Founded “Investing in a New Climate,” a workshop series for asset owners for managing climate investment risk.

George Serafeim:

  1. Jakurski Family Associate Professor at Harvard Business School,
  2.  A director at the High Meadows Institute,
  3. Co-founder and senior partner of KKS Advisors
  4. Former Standards Council Member at the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board.

Tim Smith:

  1. Director of ESG Shareowner Engagement at Walden Asset Management,
  2. Leads Walden’s ongoing shareholder engagement program to promote corporate leadership on environmental, social, and governance issues.
  3. Served as executive director of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility for 24 years.

Joy Williams:

  1. Senior advisor for Zizzo Strategy,
  2. In-house climate change subject matter expert at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
  3. Professional engineer
  4. Chartered alternative investment analyst.


New York State Common Retirement Fund

  1. Third largest public pension fund in the United States
  2. Estimated assets of $209.1 billion as of Dec. 31, 2017.
  3. Holds and invests 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.
  4. Recognized as the top U.S. investor, and third globally, for efforts to combat climate change by the Asset Owners Disclosure Project.

New York State’s Efforts to Combat 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 mandated a Clean Energy Standard for half of its electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030.

Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision REV proposes to stimulate investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency and ensure New York reduces greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.

Learn more about REV, www.ny.gov/REV4NY

Learn more about sustainable investing,  http://nyscomp.org/2ERolCo

About the author

Frank Parlato


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