scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Pension board is urged to fight climate change

Representatives of thousands of teachers, nurses, and human service workers plan to present a letter Tuesday at the Massachusetts state pension board’s investment committee meeting, urging the panel to consider scaling back investments in fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.

The letter, a copy of which was provided to the Globe, is signed by the Service Employees International Union, Local 509; two teacher groups; and the Massachusetts Nurses Association. The workers are participants in the $62 billion state pension fund.

The authors said they are submitting the letter because “we believe the board has a fiduciary duty to incorporate climate change concerns into its investment policy decisions in the interest of not only pension beneficiaries, but in the interest of the taxpayers that indirectly contribute to the pension system.”


Other groups signing the letter are Divest Our Pensions Now, which says it represents teachers and state workers interested in divestment, and Educators for a Democratic Union, whose members are part of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

The letter asks the retirement system managers to “address the risks of continued investment in oil, coal and gas companies.”

The pension fund recently adopted new proxy voting guidelines on stocks, including provisions calling on companies to increase recycling, invest in renewable energy sources, and report on energy-efficiency targets.

It also was among 62 large investors that signed a letter in April urging federal securities regulators to require greater disclosure by publicly traded oil and gas companies of their climate-change-related risks.

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who chairs the state pension fund, was one of six state treasurers to sign that letter, calling climate change “a critical economic issue.”

A spokesman for the state pension fund declined to comment Monday.

A 2013 bill filed by state Senator Benjamin Downing, a Pittsfield Democrat, called for divestment from the fossil fuel sector, estimating $1.4 billion in holdings at the state pension fund.


Beth Healy can be reached
Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.