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Big state pension funds back climate-change disclosures

January 27, 2010 |  1:23 pm

The country's two largest public pension funds -- the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System -- are applauding the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a groundbreaking ruling on climate change.

The commission today voted 3 to 2 to require publicly traded companies to tell investors about any "material" effects that global warming might have on the way they do business. Such effects could include the development of new emissions management policies, changes in weather patterns or potential earnings related to energy efficiency or green-power products and manufacturing.

"Ensuring that investors are getting timely material information on climate-related impacts, including regulatory and physical impacts, is absolutely essential," said Anne Stausboll, chief executive of the $203-billion CalPERS fund.

Jack Ehnes, her counterpart at the $134-billion teachers fund, called the SEC move a needed tool for assessing the effect of climate change on companies in its investment portfolio.

"There will be a consistent standard for companies to report climate risk," Ehnes said, "and that will help all investors make better-informed decisions."

-- Marc Lifsher