New York State Common Retirement Fund Becomes First US Pension Fund to Commit to Net-Zero by 2040

SOURCE: Ceres

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December 14, 2020 /3BL Media/ - New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced that New York State Common Retirement Fund will commit to the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its portfolio by 2040, becoming the first US pension fund pledging to achieve this ambition 10 years earlier than any other US pension fund. 

"Today’s announcement by Comptroller DiNapoli that the New York State Common Retirement Fund will commit to reach net zero by 2040 is incredibly ambitious and visionary,” said Mindy Lubber, President and CEO of the sustainability nonprofit organization Ceres. “We hope this commitment from the third largest pension fund in the nation will help to inspire and ratchet up ambition across the broader investment community. In making this commitment, the Fund is showing that it understands the difference a decade can make in helping to limit global temperature rise to no more than 1.5-degrees Celsius and prevent the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis.

The New York State Common Retirement Fund, which has been a Ceres member since 2003, has long been a leader on climate and sustainability issues. In June of 2019, it became the first asset owner to issue an investor climate action plan, detailing exactly how it would mitigate climate risk, capitalize on opportunities in the low-carbon economy and protect the fund’s long term value. The plan doubled the Fund’s commitment from $10 billion to $20 billion in its Sustainable Investment Climate Solutions Program, and assigned dedicated staff to identify climate-related investment opportunities. And in its new commitment to reach net zero by 2040, the Fund said it will establish interim targets for all aspects of its climate action plan and will advocate for policies to reduce the systemic risk the climate crisis poses to the entire economy. 

The Fund has already made good progress in implementing its climate action plan, with $11 billion already committed to sustainable investments and climate solutions. 

“In the coming months, as Ceres works with investors to develop and implement climate action plans, set net zero targets and address portfolio wide and systemic risks, New York State Common Retirement Fund can serve as a model,” Lubber added. “All assets owners and managers need to strive for high ambition goals that achieve net-zero emissions and manage climate risk at the portfolio and systemic levels. It has never been more important to act, and we look forward to working with the Fund and other investors to achieve their commitment in the year ahead.” 

Comptroller DiNapoli is a member of the Ceres board of directors. 

Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. For more information, visit ceres.org and follow @CeresNews.

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KEYWORDS: CERES, New York State, New York State Common Retirement Fund, net-zero, pension fund

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