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New York Common fund pledges additional $3bn to tackling climate change

New York State ‘s Thomas DiNapoli makes statement linked with COP24

The $207bn New York State Common Retirement Fund has pledged an additional $3bn to tackling climate change, taking its total commitment to the cause to $10bn.
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who last month was re-elected to oversee the giant fund, made the announcement ahead of his attendance to COP 24, the annual global climate summit this year in Katowice, Poland.
The new allocation of capital will be used to target “sustainable investments across asset classes” including investments in clean energy and green infrastructure as part of the fund’s Sustainable Investing Program, according to a statement from DiNapoli’s office.
“Climate change poses a significant threat to our investments,” DiNapoli said.
“The current administration in Washington may have withdrawn from the Paris Agreement but in New York ‘We Are Still In’ and committed to making the Paris Agreement’s goals a reality. I’m determined to keep New York State’s pension plan well-funded and invested in the emerging low carbon global economy.”
DiNapoli’s announcement follows a similar one made by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who in September revealed that New York City’s five public pension funds would double their investment in climate change solutions to $4bn by 2021.

New York State’s public pension pot, the third largest in the US, already invests $4bn in the low carbon index it created with a Goldman Sachs in 2015.
Speaking to RI in September, DiNapoli said that as part of its sustainability programme the fund has “two large investments” in sustainable funds created by Al Gore’s Generation Asset Management.It has also revealed investments in Rockefeller Asset Management’s Global Sustainability and Impact Strategy and the Rise Impact Fund.
On top of that an advisory panel set up by DiNapoli in 2017 is current exploring ways for the fund to further decarbonise its portfolio.
The panel, which includes Harvard’s George Serafeim and ESG stalwart Cary Krosinsky, was created in response to pressure from New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo for the fund to divest fossil fuels, following Stringer’s decision to remove such holdings from New York City’s pension pots last year.
But DiNapoli told RI in September that for now it still favours engagement.
The Common Retirement Fund is currently leading engagement with US oil giant Exxon as part of its responsibilities as a member of Climate Action 100+, the $32trn investor engagement initiative.
Exxon was the subject of a landmark climate risk shareholder resolution in 2017, which was co-filed by DiNapoli’s office with the UK’s Church Commissioners.
It was billed as an unprecedented victory when it received support from 68% of shareholders.
But the optimism soon faded when Exxon published its underwhelming climate risk report in response to the resolution.
This year DiNapoli withdrew a resolution at Exxon following enhanced commitments from the oil firm.
Though DiNapoli told RI that whilst the fund will “continue to engage with [Exxon]…we might reach a point where we have a different opinion about investing in them”.