The board of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (Calpers), the largest U.S. pension fund with $182 billion in assets, has voted to prioritize efforts to prod car makers into adopting California's new, stringent tailpipe emission standards. They also voted to make environmentalism a top investment priority. Calpers investment staff will evaluate the fund's portfolio companies in terms of environmental liabilities they might pose. That means car makers and utilities will come under scrutiny because of their greenhouse gas emissions.
"We expect environmental corporate stewardship to play a greater role in corporate governance over the next 10 years," Calpers board member Priya Mathur said.
Steve Westly, California's controller and a Calpers board member, said the fund's aggressive posture is necessary with the Kyoto protocol set to go into effect.
"What's clear is that we're giving the staff teeth," Westly told Reuters in an interview.
to shine light on corporate environmental liabilities, improving transparency and timely disclosure of environmental impacts. "Information is a necessary tool for investors," said Rob Feckner, Acting President of CalPERS. "Shareowners need information on environmental liabilities to make informed investment decisions and assess costs associated with the impact to the environment."
Under the plan, CalPERS will pursue the following initiatives aimed at improving environmental data transparency. They include:
Signing on to the Global Carbon Disclosure Project, an international effort to improve the transparency of business risks associated with climate change due to rising levels of greenhouse gases (GHG);
Improving data transparency in the auto industry by supporting shareholder proposals at Ford and General Motors and possibly other auto manufacturers.
Exploring opportunities to develop a model greenhouse gases reporting project that ensures timely and standardized disclosure of environmental data in the Utilities industry; and Recognizing individual companies that demonstrate best practices in environmental data transparency.