Major California Pension Fund to Disclose Annual GHG Emissions

Major California Pension Fund to Disclose Annual GHG Emissions

The California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), the nation's third largest public pension fund, has joined the California Climate Action Registry, a nonprofit organization geared toward tracking and reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As a participant in the registry, CalSTRS will voluntarily measure and report its emissions of greenhouse gases, the main contributors to global warming.

CalSTRS is the largest teachers' retirement fund in the United States with a total membership of approximately 755,000 and assets of $132 billion. The organization's primary responsibility is to provide retirement-related benefits and services to teachers in public schools from kindergarten through community college.

The registry, created by California legislature in 2000, helps companies and organizations throughout the United States to track, publicly report and reduce their emissions of the gases that can lead to global warming. The results are certified by independent organizations to ensure compliance with registry protocols and standardization across sectors. The registry has been widely recognized as a gold standard for public reporting of greenhouse gases.

Recently, CalSTRS has taken an active role in influencing businesses to be more open about the risk of climate change. In May, it joined with the United Nations to back the Climate Risk Disclosure Initiative CRDI. This initiative is aimed at enhancing corporations' climate risk disclosure -- the effort will focus on disclosure of corporate emissions, climate actions, scenario analysis, strategic analysis, and plans to address climate risks and opportunities.

CalSTRS is also taking steps to tackle the threat of climate change with the way it does business. For example, it is seeking to reduce energy usage in its $4.3 billion, 57.5 million square foot core office real estate holdings by 20% within five years. In addition it has dedicated investment of $1 billion into funds focused on environmentally responsible companies. Joining the registry to comprehensively report its own GHG emissions is yet another example of this forward-thinking and influential behavior.

"CalSTRS watches the quality of corporate management as part of its governance obligation to the teachers whose funds we invest. Our joining the registry underscores the importance of inventorying GHG emissions as a basic step in GHG management. Just as California is a leader in setting statewide GHG emission targets, CalSTRS takes a leadership role in recognizing the inherent value to our investment portfolio in being responsive to climate risk. We urge other institutional investors to join us in the registry," said Jack Ehnes, chief executive officer of CalSTRS.

"Investors are a powerful influence on how big businesses manage issues like climate change," said Diane Wittenberg, president of the California Climate Action Registry. "Having influential investors like CalSTRS participating in and supporting our program sends a strong signal that climate risk is real and needs to be managed aggressively, the first step of which is a complete inventory of an organization's own GHG emissions."