CalPERS hails “valuable insight” of new Asset Owners Disclosure Project

Pension giant’s announcement backs climate disclosure initiative

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest US pension fund, has given what amounts to a massive boost to a fledgling project to rank global asset owners on climate change transparency.
CalPERS has announced that it has earned an ‘A’ grade in the Asset Owners Disclosure Project’s 2012 Climate Change Survey – one of only 22 organisations to do so and putting the fund at 15 on the list of the world’s 1,000 largest asset owners in AODP’s survey.
CalPERS said the AODP provides “valuable insight into the strategies deployed by some of the largest asset owners in the world in relation to climate change”.
“The survey also encourages funds to engage in climate change-related issues, often for the first time.”
It’s significant because the Australia-based not-for-profit initiative has struggled to gain acceptance from investor climate groups.
Responsible Investor reported in September last year the AODP’s disappointment that its overtures to investor groups had been rejected.
It was proposing to collaborate with the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, the Investor Network on Climate Risk and the Investor Group on Climate Change.But, in strongly worded terms, the project complained that the groups’ demand for disclosure by companies was not matched by investor transparency.

And AODP Executive Director Julian Poulter cited CalPERS directly in an opinion piece in RI in January in which he reiterated the demand for transparency from asset owners on climate change.
But now the $255bn (€195.1bn) fund says it is “thrilled” to receive recognition from the AODP. Anne Simpson, CalPERS’ Director of Global Governance, said in the statement: “Climate change poses both risks and opportunities for a long term, global investor such as CalPERS.”
The AODP is chaired by John Hewson, the former leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. Its survey is comprised of around 50 multiple-choice questions covering the five main areas of a fund’s operations and investments.
These include transparency, low-carbon investment, active ownership, risk management and investment chain alignment.
Data is sourced from public information as well as disclosures that funds provide through the survey.