Maryland pension system begins weighing portfolio's carbon footprint

The managers of Maryland’s pension fund have begun considering the impact their investments have on climate change and how to minimize the carbon footprint of the state’s $45 billion portfolio.

The state’s chief investment officer told lawmakers Wednesday that the pension system is weighing how efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could lower the value of some of its investments and how to shift more money to environmentally friendly industries, like renewable energy.

Members of the General Assembly requested the briefing as large investors around the country increasingly sell assets linked to fossil fuels and urge companies to reduce emissions.

The pension system has not made changes in its investment strategy. But officials are incorporating more questions about climate change impact into their decision making, said Andrew Palmer, who oversees investments made by the system that covers state and local government employees, police, teachers and judges.

“If it’s a risk to the system, we need to think of it like any other risk and incorporate it throughout our entire process,” he told the Joint Committee on Pensions, a legislative panel that oversees the state pension fund.

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