California pension chief Ehnes to chair FTSE Environmental Markets Committee

Senior figure lends his weight to environmental investment initiative

Jack Ehnes, chief executive of the $154.8bn (€118.8bn) California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) is to take over as chairman of index firm FTSE’s Environmental Markets Committee.

The committee oversees the FTSE Environmental Markets Index Series launched in 2007 with UK-based environmental asset management house Impax Asset Management.

Ehnes succeeds Winston Hickox, the former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and a former Senior Portfolio Manager at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), who had chaired the group since inception.

The other members of the committee are: Eric Borremans, Head of SRI Development at BNP Paribas Investment Partners; Bernard Bulkin, the former BP Chief Scientist who chairs the UK government’s Office of Renewable Energy; John-Marc Bunce, Director of Cleantech Research at Nomura Code; Will Oulton, Global Head of Responsible Investment at First State Investments; David Russell, co-head of Responsible Investment at the Universities Superannuation Scheme; and Mark Thompson, Global Head of Environmental Technology Research at Religare Hitchens Harrons.

Ehnes said he thought the “consistency of approach” of the index committee would help bring along “mainstream investors” into climate change investment.“Where some of us have been discussing this a long time, others are still scratching their heads and trying to figure out ‘is this something that fits with our investment approach?’” he said in an interview.

“Having that discipline and rigour is what gives institutional investors the confidence that this makes sense for their investments.”

“Having that discipline and rigour is what gives institutional investors confidence”

There are two sets of indices in the family, covering environmental technology and environmental opportunities.

The FTSE Environmental Opportunities 100 Index (EO100) is up 13.57% in the past year while the Environmental Opportunities All-Share Index (EOAS) is up 12.96%. The indices now feature more energy efficiency and water technology instead of renewable energy.

FTSE’s environmental markets classification system and the indices are the basis of exchange traded funds (ETFs), tracker funds, structured products and benchmarks at about 30 institutions investors. Clients include names such as Sweden’s Sjunde AP-fonden (AP7), Fidelity and Russell.