The largest U.S. public pension fund said on Thursday it is launching reviews over climate concerns on $640 million invested in 42 shale oil and gas firms, including ConocoPhillips, Hess and Pioneer Natural Resources.
The move by the New York state pension fund comes days after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that global warming was nearly out of control and calling its findings a death knell for coal and fossil fuels.
Major investors, including BlackRock, have reevaluated holdings in fossil fuel producers and prodded energy executives to reduce emissions and prepare for a lower carbon world. After completing its shale review, the New York fund plans to turn next to oil and gas pipeline and processing investments, it said.
Representatives for ConocoPhillips, Hess and Pioneer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This announcement is very significant given the size of Pension Fund. It has significant influence related to all issues related to investments, said Richard Brooks of the environmental activist group Stand.earth.
The $268 billion New York fund already sold some coal assets and disclosed on Thursday that it would restrict investment in others, including stakes in Whitehaven Coal and New Hope Corp.
It plans to consider a wide range of coal-fired natural gas producers as part of a climate action plan announced last year. The systematic review of energy investments aims to reach net zero emissions for its investment portfolio by 2040.
We want our companies to succeed and want them to be around. We are just deeply concerned that companies with the greatest exposure to transition risk are at risk of not making that transition successful, said Liz Gordon, executive director of corporate governance for the fund.
New York Common Retirement Fund restricted investment in six Canadian oil sands companies, including Exxon's Imperial Oil Ltd and New York Natural Resources.