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Study: California pension funds have lost billions on backward-looking energy investments

November 07, 2019

Chief Investment Officer:

A new study shows that the two largest pension funds in the U.S.—the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)—as well as the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association, combined missed out on $19 billion in investment returns over the last decade by investing in fossil fuel stocks.

The study is the latest salvo by environmentalists in their battle to convince the large pension funds to divest their portfolios of the stocks of oil and gas companies, something the pension systems refuse to do.

It found that the $380 billion CalPERS would have generated an estimated additional $11.9 billion in investment returns had the funds divested of fossil fuel stocks a decade ago. CalPERS is the largest US pension system by assets under management; CalSTRS is No. 2.

The study found that the missed returns for CalSTRS were also substantial. The $238 billion system would have gained an additional $5.5 billion during the 10-year period.

The third system, the $45 billion Colorado PERA, missed an estimated $1.77 billion during the 10-year period, the report found.

The study highlights “that large fossil fuel companies pulled down overall performance, while technology, health care, retail, and entertainment boosted performance, the groups said.

More: Green Coalition: Pension Plans Miss Billions by Not Divesting from Fossil Fuels

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