Pension Heads Kick Off Global Warming Fight

April 1, 2003 ( - The heads of large public pensions funds are continuing their activist stance with a new campaign against global warming because of its effects on long-term investments.

Kicking off the campaign were Denise Nappier, Treasurer, State of Connecticut; William Thompson, Jr., Comptroller, City of New York; Alan Hevesi, Comptroller, New York State; and Jeb Spaulding, Treasurer, State of Vermont. The four executives, who together represent about $130 billion in investments, announced plans to hold an institutional investor summit to look at the financial effects of global warming.

Nappier, and Hevesi also indicated that their funds will likely vote their proxies in favor of current shareholder resolutions requesting disclosure of plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.   Thompson, as chief investment adviser to the five New York City funds, will recommend they also vote their proxies in favor of the resolutions.

The officials will cite a variety of potential risks posed by climate change, from damages caused by climate change itself, to future potential regulatory scenarios, competitive pressures in development of new technology, and potential future legal liabilities for heavy emitters of greenhouse gas.  

“These resolutions should serve as a notice that we will not tolerate irresponsible corporate behavior that could potentially undermine the integrity and soundness of our pension funds and the health of our planet and its people, Nappier said in a statement. “We need to pull corporate America’s heads from the sand and look at this obvious long-term economic risk.   In my view, institutional investors are in a position to lead that effort.”

“Fund managers are routinely asked questions about how large scale trends are likely to affect a portfolio,” said Spaulding in a statement. ” Climate change is the definition of a large scale trend. I would be interested in our fund managers’ views on the way in which climate risk should be evaluated in our long term portfolio strategy.”

A record 31 “global warming” resolutions were filed against 27 companies this year, primarily with companies from heavily-emitting sectors such as auto, electric utilities, oil and gas, and manufacturing.