Divestment would have made NY pension fund $22B richer

The New York State Common Retirement Fund (NYSCRF) would be an estimated $22.2 billion richer had it decided to divest its fossil fuel stocks ten years ago, according to analysis performed by Corporate Knights. That works out to more than $19,820 for of each of the fund’s 1,122,626 members and retirees, an amount that would have covered more than 25 percent of the costs from 2012’s climate change fuelled Superstorm Sandy.

To determine the financial impact of fossil fuel divestment for the NYSCRF, Corporate Knights retrieved the fund’s stock holdings, weights and valuations for each of the past ten years. It then used this publicly disclosed information to compare the actual investment returns of NYSCRF’s equity portfolio with those of a fossil fuel-free version (no oil, gas or coal stocks), and accounted for net outflows arising from member contributions and pension retirement payments.

The general outperformance of fossil fuel-free investment strategies over the past five and ten year periods is now well documented and proving resilient even as oil prices rise. For instance, the S&P 500 Fossil Fuel Free Index was ahead of the S&P 500 on a five-year basis as of market-close September 26th 2018.

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Deb McNamara