New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) is reviewing 27 thermal coal mining companies to determine whether they are taking steps to transition to a more sustainable business model in line with the growing low carbon economy. The review of coal companies is part of DiNapoli’s Climate Action Plan to further decarbonize the state pension fund’s investments.
“Investors who fail to face the risks and seize the opportunities presented by climate change put their portfolios in jeopardy,” DiNapoli said. “We are assessing minimum standards for transition readiness at coal mining companies first, because they face the greatest risk as the world turns to cleaner and renewable energies. If a particular company is not ready to move away from its reliance on thermal coal mining for profits, we may divest our holdings in that company.”
The companies were selected from the Fund’s portfolio because they earn at least 10 percent of revenues from mining thermal coal – coal that is burned in power plants to produce electricity either directly for industries or to supply power grids.
DiNapoli wrote the companies, asking for information responsive to the Fund’s new minimum standards, giving them until mid-February to respond. The Fund will evaluate each company’s strategies for moving away from coal mining against minimum standards it has developed as part of DiNapoli’s Climate Action Plan. Among the standards being assessed are companies’ efforts to align their business model with the Paris Agreement’s goals by: reducing capital expenditures on coal; setting long-term targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; improving climate reporting; and increasing revenue from low-carbon or green technologies.
Companies that fail the Fund’s assessment and cannot demonstrate transition readiness may be subject to divestment pending fiduciary review to ensure their removal will not negatively impact the Fund. It is expected the process will take several months to complete.
A complete list of the companies is available at https://osc.state.ny.us/press/docs/thermal-coal-list.pdf.
About DiNapoli’s Climate Action Plan
Released in June 2019, DiNapoli’s Climate Action Plan is a multi-faceted strategy to address both the serious climate-related investment risks that all investors must address and the risks and opportunities associated with climate change. The plan includes a $20 billion commitment to sustainable investments, dedicated staff to pursue climate solution investments, and minimum standards for portfolio companies that will inform investment and potential divestment decisions. The Climate Action Plan is a follow-up strategy to the recommendations of the Decarbonization Advisory Panel convened by Governor Cuomo and Comptroller DiNapoli.
About the New York State Common Retirement Fund
The New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third-largest public pension fund in the United States, with an audited value of $210.5 billion as of March 31, 2019. The Fund holds and invests the assets of the New York State and Local Retirement System on behalf of more than one million state and local government employees and retirees and their beneficiaries. The Fund has a diversified portfolio of public and private equities, fixed income, real estate, and alternative instruments and has consistently been ranked as one of the best managed and best-funded plans in the nation.