CalSTRS released its Green Initiative Task Force report on Wednesday. The report highlights the pension fund’s “environmental-themed investments” and risk-management efforts related to climate change.
The report reveals that it increased its purchases of “green bonds” by 300 percent in 2014. Investopedia defines a “green bond”:
These bonds are created to encourage sustainability and the development of brownfield sites. The tax-exempt status makes purchasing a green bond a more attractive investment when compared to a comparable taxable bond. To qualify for green bond status the development must take the form of any of the following:
1) At least 75% of the building is registered for LEED certification;
2) The development project will receive at least $5 million from the municipality or State; and
3) The building is at least one million square feet in size, or 20 acres in size.
From a CalSTRS press release:
California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s (CalSTRS) eighth annual Green Initiative Task Force report shows an almost 300 percent increase in green bond purchases within the Fixed Income portfolio. This year, the Teachers’ Retirement Board identified sustainable investing as a key, strategic priority, which is reflected in the report and other initiatives.
The growth in green bonds aligns with a commitment that CalSTRS Chief Executive Officer Jack Ehnes made during his participation in the 2014 Climate Summit where he announced that CalSTRS will more than double the fund’s clean energy and technology investments of $1.4 billion to $3.7 billion over the next five years. The move is in response to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for bold action to build resilience to the impacts of climate change.
“Targeting the clean energy and technology sector provides a good investment opportunity while positioning CalSTRS for a low-carbon future,” noted Ehnes. “But more importantly, we hope our actions will help catalyze incentives for comprehensive climate change policies that ultimately lead up to a global agreement in Paris in 2015.”
CalSTRS sees a growing number of investment opportunities in low-carbon solutions, especially as renewable technology costs come down and regional clean energy policies take hold.
“Our growth of green-related investments is a good example of successful engagement on environmental and climate risk issues,” said CalSTRS Chief Investment Officer Christopher J. Ailman. “Looking forward, we hope to bring more attention to the role large institutional investor’s play in financing green bonds, clean energy and climate change initiatives.”
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