Union, City Set Pension Investment Goals

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
At a press conference on Sept. 13, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced the New York City pension fund goal to invest $4 billion in clean energy and other climate change solutions by 2021.

“New York City leads from the front when it comes to the fight against climate change,” said de Blasio. “We’re taking a stand for generations to come with our goal to double our pension investments in job-creating climate solutions. I know that other cities will look to our example, and I implore them to join us.”

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DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido discusses the decision of the city’s pension trustees to invest $4 billion in clean energy at a press conferences on Sept. 13. Photo: Rudy Orozco

The mayor said NYCERS new goal doubles investments in climate change solutions to $4 billion, or 2 percent of the city’s $195 billion pension portfolio over the next three years.

“This is an important step in finding clean energy solutions,” said Henry Garrido, executive director of DC 37. “I applaud the Mayor and Comptroller for their commitment to creating good paying sustainable jobs.

As a NYCERS trustee, I will work with my colleagues to lessen the risks and maximize the opportunities for the beneficiaries of our pension funds,” Garrido said.

To reach this objective the city’s pension systems will invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other climate solutions for long-term sustainable and profitable results. New York City is changing its public pension investment model to one that does well for beneficiaries and does good for the planet.

Climate change solutions, as with all new investments, creates risks and opportunities. To fulfill fiduciary responsibilities, the city pension funds are working to address the risks and maximize the opportunities for its beneficiaries.

The boards of individual pension systems will review specific
investments to determine whether profit projections are consistent with their portfolio strategies.

In a recent article in the Financial Times, Mark Haefele, the chief financial officer of UBS Global Wealth Management, noted that a UBS survey of wealthy investors finds “39 percent say they already have sustainable investments in their portfolios… A great deal of evidence supports the conclusion that sustainable… investors can at least match the returns of ordinary investors.”

“The future is with big ideas in clean technology, not with big polluters,” Stringer said. “Today we’re showing that New York City will continue to lead the way in investing in sustainable investments that offer strong returns for New York City beneficiaries. By pledging to double our holdings in climate solutions we’re becoming an important part of that solution.”

Although President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement, De Blasio signed an executive order in June 2017 to uphold the goals of the Paris agreement regardless of federal support.

Mayor de Blasio partnered with the City of London to create and co-chair the Divest/Invest Cities Divestment Forum. Climate change is a global problem that needs cooperation from all parties, cities, state and countries.

The DC 37 Blog is an online publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 125,000 municipal employees in New York City. This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Public Employee Press.

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