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Press Release: New Report Tallies CO2 Emissions Financed by CalPERS Portfolio, Highlights Investment Risks

NEW YORK – Fossil Free Indexes (FFI), an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) index and research company, today released a report entitled “The CalPERS Portfolio and Fossil Fuel Reserve-related CO2 Emissions 2004-2013.” The report reviewed CalPERS’ share of global fossil fuel reserves, finding that the financed emissions supported by CalPERS’ oil and gas holdings would be equivalent to the emissions embedded in reserves held by 55th largest oil and gas company, and the 88th largest coal company globally.

CalPERS is the nation’s largest pension fund at $301 billion dollars, and its fossil fuel exposure has increased over the past decade. Between 2004 and 2013, the reserves-based financed emissions content of CalPERS portfolio nearly doubled, rising 67% in oil and gas and 117% in coal. The report found significant increases in number of companies held, amount of financed emissions, book value and market value of holdings, share of equity and corporate debt holdings and emissions intensity, or the volume of financed emissions supported by each dollar of investment held.

Fossil fuel exposure was measured in terms of holdings of The Carbon Underground 200, FFI’s list of top 100 public oil and gas companies globally and the top 100 public coal companies globally, ranked by the carbon content of their reported reserves.

“We undertook this study to learn what the analysis of reserves-based emissions could reveal with respect to a specific, large portfolio in light of the growing concern about stranded asset risk in the coal and oil and gas sectors,” commented Stuart Braman, Founder and CEO of Fossil Free Indexes. “We thought the numbers would be substantial, given CalPERS’ size, but we were surprised and concerned to see the dramatic upward trend in the last 10 years. We expect other asset owners may well want to develop a similar understanding of their own portfolio’s reserves-based emissions trends as they consider calls for divestment and cautions about stranded asset risk.”

Overall, the Carbon Underground 200 made up 7.3% of CalPERS’ total equity and corporate debt portfolio. Under a future scenario where carbon emissions are regulated, these investments could be vulnerable to write-downs or devaluations. The reserves of the Carbon Underground 200 could become “stranded,” in that they contain more than four times their allocated share of the CO2 emissions budget (the amount that can be released into the atmosphere and still meet the goal of keeping global warming under 2° Celsius).

The report is free to download at http://fossilfreeindexes.com/research/calpers-portoflio-financed-co2-emissions/.

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