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NYC Retirement Systems to look at decarbonizing portfolios

Comptroller Scott Stringer's proposal comes on heel on governor asking state pension fund to explore divestment options

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer proposed that trustees of the $190 billion New York City Retirement Systems explore ways to decarbonize the portfolios.

Their examination will include "the feasibility of ceasing additional investments in fossil fuels, divesting current holdings in fossil-fuel companies and increasing investments in clean energy," Mr. Stringer proposed in a statement Tuesday.​

Mr. Stringer, fiduciary for the five pension funds within the New York City Retirement Systems, added that he will work with the systems' trustees to "review any and all proposals that will safeguard the pension funds,"

"As comptroller, I will continue in my fiduciary duty to protect the fiscal health of the city and the retirement security of our city workers and beneficiaries," Mr. Stinger said.

Mr. Stringer's announcement came the same day New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed​ that the $201.3 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund halt all new investments "with significant fossil-fuel-related activities" and prepare a plan to divest existing fossil-fuel investments.

New York State Common and the New York City pension funds have been prominent players among institutional investors in persuading corporate boards to increase their analysis of the impact of climate change on their portfolios and to increase reporting to the public.

In February, New York City Retirement Systems hired Mercer and Trucost to make their investment portfolios more sensitive to the impact of climate change by conducting a first-ever carbon footprint analysis of their public equity investments and incorporating "the realities of global warming into the funds' asset allocation, manager selection and risk management processes," a Feb. 2 news release said.

A spokesman for Mr. Stringer could not immediately provide additional information.