Boston — Today, Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg announced new draft rules that would allow the state pension fund to vote against directors at companies that are not aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement. The fund controls $95.7 billion invested across over 11,000 public companies.
If the proposed rules (New Proxy Voting Guidelines 2022 Under: Sustainability and Climate Change Guidelines 2022) are enacted, the Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board will vote against directors at companies that have failed to align their business plans with the goals of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and/or establishing a plan to achieve “net zero” emissions by 2050.
Climate finance was a big topic of discussion at the United Nations COP26 climate conference in Glasgow last week, but the $130T Net-Zero Asset Manager initiative has only committed 35% of its total assets to decarbonizing the economy. The leadership shown by Treasurer Goldberg to unleash the power of the Massachusetts pension fund is timely.
Grassroots organizations have been working collaboratively with the treasurer’s office to enact investing policies that will make sure that public money uses its power to vote off board directors at the companies that are the most significant drivers of climate change and for the pension fund to pursue an environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) framework into their investment decision process.
“The pension fund invests billions of dollars in publicly-traded companies, and we want to do all we can to ensure these organizations are following best practices by affirming the science and causes of climate change,” said State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, who Chairs the PRIM Board. “It is critical that we be forward thinking in building and implementing a comprehensive ESG framework that will have a positive long-term impact on our changing climate.”
“As Massachusetts experiences the accelerating impacts of the climate crisis, we must increase pressure on the energy, utility, and banking sectors to lead in the decarbonization of our economy. Using the enormous shareholder power of the state pension fund as a lever sends the strong and clear message that Massachusetts is serious about systemic climate risk and the injustices it causes to our residents. These responsible investing guidelines, if voted upon favorably, are a gift to the planet, to our frontline communities most impacted by climate change -- and to all pensioners of the Commonwealth,” said Deb Pasternak, Massachusetts Sierra Club State Director.
“Our pension fund is poised to decarbonize the real economy and shift capital away from climate critical industries that are not on track to limit warming to 1.5C. We applaud Treasurer Goldberg’s efforts to use all the levers asset owners have available and to create policy to hold corporate boards accountable to align their business to 1.5 C pathways,” said Mary Cerulli, Climate Finance Action, Founder.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.
About Climate Finance Action
Climate Finance Action (CFA) organizes grassroots and grasstops to build community power to change the political calculus of elected officials who oversee public and defined contribution assets. We identify, train, and organize stakeholders and influencers in key states to push public officials to use their considerable shareholder and investor power to pressure the largest drivers of the climate crisis to change their business practices to align with limiting global warming to 1.5ºC. www.climatefinanceaction.org