Pension-Fund Network Pushes 'Green' Agenda

State officials and business leaders in control of $4 trillion in pension funds are using their financial clout to push for a change in national policy to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The Investor Network on Climate Risk includes treasurers from nine states.

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A group of pension fund managers is throwing its financial weight behind efforts to slow global warming. They're calling on Congress and the president to take strong steps to reduce greenhouse gases, as NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: They call themselves the Investor Network on Climate Risk and they carry considerable financial clout. The group includes treasurers from nine states, including California, North Carolina and New Jersey. California Treasurer Bill Lockyer's spokesman, Tom Dresslar, says the network members control some $4 trillion in assets.

Mr. TOM DRESSLAR (Spokesman, California Treasurer Bill Lockyer): We're talking about not just the tree-hugging environmentalists but captains of industry -Alcoa, BP, Dupont, people that invest huge amounts of money.

HORSLEY: The investor network wants policymakers to impose significant cuts in greenhouse gases by 2050. Some business groups, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are wary of that, saying it could hurt the economy. But members of the new investor network argue the risk of inaction is even greater.

What's more, they see business opportunities in technologies to reverse climate change. Dresslar notes that California already has some of the nation's toughest laws to reduce carbon emissions, but business leaders here and elsewhere see a need for a national solution.

Mr. DRESSLAR: We needed to, you know, preserve our economic competitiveness to protect investors and also just to help ensure that we have the kind of future that we want.

HORSLEY: Ideally, the group says, businesses would be allowed to trade carbon credits to encourage flexibility and innovation.

Scott Horsley, NPR News, San Diego.

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