NYC pension plan leaders support calls for less fossil fuel funding

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A Bank of America logo is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

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April 11 (Reuters) – New York pensions officials said on Monday they would support shareholder resolutions filed with major banks calling for rapid cuts in funding for the development of new fossil fuels, putting climate concerns at the forefront. foreground of a new season of shareholders’ meetings in the spring.

Shareholders expected to back resolutions filed with Bank of America Corp, (BAC.N) Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and four other banks “to mitigate systemic risks posed by unfettered climate change,” according to a statement sent by a representative of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who oversees some $280 billion in retirement assets. Read more

Support from the third-largest U.S. public pension system will boost the prospects for resolutions from environmentally conscious investors, including the Sierra Club Foundation and Trillium Asset Management.

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Indeed, the non-binding proposals call on banks to end the development of new fossil fuel projects in line with calls made this year by global watchdog the International Energy Agency (IEA).

So far, the banks have opposed the resolutions. In a securities filing, Bank of America said its board “believes the policy called for by the proposal is unnecessary given our commitment to financing a low-carbon environment, our strong programs and risk management policies and our net zero commitment”.

Goldman Sachs said in another filing that given its investments in decarbonization and financing the transition, its stakeholders “are best served by our engagement, not our divestment.”

Influential proxy adviser Glass Lewis has so far recommended investors vote “against” the resolutions, saying banks have been responsive to climate concerns.

In another report, Glass Lewis also wrote that increased fossil fuel development is likely the result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Shareholders may be reluctant to limit Bank of America’s ability to participate in such projects in the current geopolitical environment,” Glass Lewis said.

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Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio

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