Stock exchange building
(Photo credit: Billie Grace Ward / Flickr)

Almost 2 million Californians receive a pension from CalPERS, the California Public Employees Retirement System.

“Because we’re a pension fund, we rely on companies thriving in the economy to generate the returns, and we pay pensions out of that,” says Anne Simpson of CalPERS.

She says climate change may put those investments at risk because extreme weather can hurt company profits. And if governments require cuts to carbon pollution, companies reliant on fossil fuels may lose money.

“We need to think about how do we manage that risk? How do we mitigate that risk? Don’t just lie there on the railway tracks waiting to be run over,” Simpson says.

Working with other large investors, CalPERS is helping to lead the Climate Action 100+ coalition. The initiative uses its combined financial clout to pressure companies to reduce their carbon pollution. Many are responding.

“Because when money talks, it has impact. And for Climate Action 100+, we now have $40 trillion in investment signed up to making this successful,” Simpson says. “We’ve got very ambitious goals, but we cannot let up. The urgency is absolutely upon us.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...