Broad Coalition Calls on CalPERS to Update Approach to Climate Change

For Immediate Release: Monday, September 18, 2023
Contact: Elizabeth Brennan (213) 999-2164 

SACRAMENTO** | Following record-breaking temperatures, a tropical storm, a hurricane and several megafires throughout California, a growing coalition of organizations is urging CalPERS to update its approach to climate risk in line with its fiduciary duty. The groups are calling on the fund to adopt new policies that more explicitly recognize the threat that these climate emergencies pose to both taxpayers and current and former state workers who depend on the pension system. 

CalPERS is a founding member of the Net Zero Asset Owner’s Alliance (NZAOA) and Climate Action 100+. Both groups comprise leading institutional investors that have committed to enacting internal structures and policies that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. CalPERS has yet to take sufficient action on the climate. For example, it has not enacted proxy voting guidelines in line with 1.5 degrees or measures to reduce new investments in companies expanding fossil fuel output and infrastructure, and it has not divested from risky fossil fuel investments. 

The following is a statement from Clair Brown, Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Work, Technology and Society at the University of California, Berkeley

“CalPERS, as the largest public pension fund in the US and a major state asset, plays an important role in holding publicly-owned companies accountable to shareholders when it comes to risky investments related to fossil fuels. 

“My research team has demonstrated that CalPERS’ engagement to date with the major oil and gas companies has not led to meaningful change in the fund’s business strategy or to emissions globally. CalPERS has an opportunity to be a leader among large-scale institutional investors in demanding corporate policies that seek to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, the more time that passes without action, the greater the climate-financial risks to the pension fund and the longer CalPERS portfolio assets are working against the state’s climate goals.”

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About Us

Fossil Free California, PowerPAC,, Third Act, The Sunrise Project, and others are joining together to help establish CalPERS as a national and international leader among pension funds in line with CalPERS’ fiduciary responsibilities and the values of Californians.

**Sacramento, California is the ancestral home and unceded lands of the Nisenan and Miwok peoples. Fossil Free California is headquartered in the ancestral lands of the Ohlone, Muwekma, Chochenyo and Lisjan peoples, in Oakland, California. We invite you to advance Indigenous leadership by supporting Sogorea Te Land Trust and Indigenous Environmental Network.