New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Friday said the SEC should “consider enforcement and other actions” to make fossil-fuel companies improve disclosure of “material risks” that climate change “poses to their business.”
Mr. DiNapoli is the sole trustee of the $181.7 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, and Mr. Stringer is the fiduciary for the $163.4 billion New York City Retirement Systems, which consists of five city pension funds.
“The silence of fossil-fuel companies on the risks they face from climate change is a red flag for investors,” Mr. Stringer said in a news release issued by both comptrollers.
“It’s time for the SEC to step in and, through regulatory or enforcement action, require these companies to provide complete and accurate information to protect investors and the broader marketplace,” Mr. DiNapoli said in the news release.
The announcement came a day after a vote by BP shareholders — including the $300.5 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Sacramento — on a resolution requiring the company to disclose the risks it faces from climate change Ninety-eight percent of shareholders supported the resolution at the oil company’s annual meeting in London.
Mr. DiNapoli and Mr. Stringer made public a Friday letter that they sent to Mary Jo White, chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. “The past 12 months have marked a period of volatility in the fossil-fuel industry and, in many cases, investment losses,” the letter said. “Climate change is likely to pose additional challenges to these companies.”
The letter didn’t identify the fossil-fuel holdings of the two pension systems or the names of companies that the comptrollers alleged haven’t provided sufficient information on the impact of climate change.
Eric Sumberg, a spokesman for Mr. Stringer, declined to discuss the scope of the city pension system’s investments in fossil-fuel companies. “This is an indicator that we need better information to assess the climate-related risks these companies face and the steps boards are taking to respond to those risks,” Mr. Sumberg wrote in an e-mail.
Matthew Sweeney, a spokesman for Mr. DiNapoli, declined to provide information on the state pension fund’s investments in fossil-fuel companies. Mr. Sweeney, in an e-mail, cited Devon Energy Corp., and Occidental Petroleum Corp. as examples of companies that “mention climate risks very generically but don’t address carbon asset risk or give any indication that they are incorporating climate risks into their capital investment strategy.”