New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, who helps oversee about $240 billion in the New York City Retirement Systems, said efforts by conservative states to thwart the financial industry's plans to address climate change are just a cover to defend the interests of oil companies.
Mr. Lander is referring to the growing backlash by elected officials from Republican-led states including Texas and West Virginia against companies that have curbed business with the oil and gas industries. A bevy of states have enacted laws in the past year to curtail ties to companies that engage in so-called boycotts of the energy industry.
Red-state treasurers and politicians are "protecting fossil-fuel executives and their country-club cronies with a sort of war of political distraction," Mr. Lander said in an interview. "That risks very real, extra costs to their constituents and long-term harm to their portfolios and to the planet."
Mr. Lander added that the oil and gas industry has a long history of rejecting "climate action at every single scale, just like cigarette and tobacco companies fought very hard against any kind of action or change."
Republicans including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence also have decried the rise of a popular investing strategy that takes into account environmental, social and governance risks. Texas enacted a law in 2021 that prohibits state pension funds such as the Teacher Retirement System of Texas from investing in companies that boycott fossil-fuel companies, with some exceptions.
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar is probing energy policies at investment firms including BlackRock to determine whether the companies are engaged in a boycott against the industry. He's expected to release a list of companies in the coming weeks that he considers to be engaged in boycotts.