Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Contact

Mike Tidwell, Executive Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and CCAN AF
240-460-5838, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org
Jeff Weisner, President, 350MoCo, 202-246-0421, jeffrey.weisner@gmail.com

Press Release

New Report: MD State Pension Fund Sacrifices Millions of Dollars in Investment Returns by Funding Fossil Fuel Companies That Drive Climate Change

WASHINGTON -

Maryland has sacrificed millions of dollars in potential returns by investing in fossil fuel companies responsible for the climate crisis, according to a recent report analyzing the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System (SRPS). The SRPS has sacrificed returns of more than 15 percentage points since 2010 in the public equities portion of the fund by buying and holding dirty energy stocks.

The report — published by researchers at FFI Solutions — examines Maryland’s holdings in the Carbon Underground 200 (CU200). The CU200 identifies the top 100 coal and top 100 oil and gas publicly-traded reserve holders globally ranked by the potential carbon emissions content of their reported reserves. Despite Maryland’s vulnerability to climate change, the report shows that as of September 2021, the SRPS had holdings in 162 of these CU200 companies. Of these fossil fuel investments, the two portfolio’s largest holdings by weight – that is, by the percentage that these companies hold in the portfolio –  were Exxon Mobil and Chevron. Although Maryland permanently banned “fracking” in 2017, the SRPS had holdings in companies that engage in fracking in nearby states. Further, the report shows that as of September 2021, the SRPS portfolio held well over half a billion dollars ($623,093,558) in securities of CU200 companies.

Since 2010, the FFI report shows that by removing CU200 fossil fuel companies, the public equities portfolio would have outperformed the non-divested portfolio by 15.19 percentage points over the backtest period. In reality, the holdings in the portfolio grew 128.58% since 2010. Without the CU200 holdings, the portfolio would have grown 143.77%. Put differently, for every $1,000 invested by the public equities portfolio in 2010, returns would be $150 greater today had the portfolio divested from the CU200 companies. During this period, the FFI report also shows that the SRPS would not have been at higher risk of sudden increases or decreases of returns as a result of divesting from fossil fuel holdings.

“This report is a double whammy of bad news,” said Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and CCAN Action Fund. “By investing in dirty coal and tar sands, Maryland’s state pension fund is lowering the retirement funds of our teachers and firefighters AND contributing to global warming. It’s time for the state legislature to demand divestment from fossil fuels to protect our climate and our retirees.”

“Maryland is falling behind other state pensions as it continues to hold dirty and unprofitable coal, oil and gas investments,” said Jeff Weisner, Steering Committee President at 350 Montgomery County (350 MoCo). “Our state pension needs to put its money where our values are and get out of fossil fuels.”

“Thousands of educators in Maryland, myself included, are relying on the pension system to be strong for the decades to come. It’s clear now that divesting from fossil fuels is the best path forward for the SRPS to protect the system from delivering subpar financial returns,” said Chris Wilhelm, an English as a Second Language teacher at Northwood High School in Silver Spring, MD. Most Maryland public school teachers are participants in the SRPS.

The report is broken down into three sections: a snapshot report showing the SRPS fossil fuel holdings, a diagnostic report that examines the holdings in more detail, and a backtest report showing the estimated performance of the portfolio with and without the fossil fuel holdings over time.

The report from FFI Solutions was commissioned by CCAN Action Fund and 350 MoCo. FFI Solutions is a research and analytics-driven advisory firm that empowers investors and asset managers to transition to more sustainable investments. For more information on the methodology of the report, you can contact Michael Palmieri at info@ffisolutions.com.

###

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is the first grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to fighting global warming in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Our mission is to build and mobilize a powerful grassroots movement in this unique region that surrounds our nation’s capital to call for state, national and international policies that will put us on a path to climate stability. - See more at: http://www.chesapeakeclimate.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&…

Docs Show DHS Watchdog Delayed Telling Congress About Deleted Secret Service Texts

The Project on Government Oversight says the records reveal a pattern of Inspector General Joseph Cuffari "rejecting proposals to inform Congress about the Secret Service's resistance to oversight."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Dictatorship Never Again': Massive Pro-Democracy Protests Sweep Brazil

"Democracy involves changing the government and eliminating neo-fascism," said one prominent protester, "but above all, ensuring that the working class, the people, have the rights guaranteed in the Constitution."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Door to Real Progress': Jayapal Makes Case for House Passage of the IRA

"It's an achievement we can all feel excited about—especially when we dig into the details," said the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Julia Conley ·


Officers Kill Gunman Who Tried to Breach FBI Office in Ohio

Though the suspect's identity and potential motivations are not known, the attack follows fear of far-right retaliation for this week's federal search of former President Donald Trump's home.

Jessica Corbett ·


House Dems Urge Biden to Provide Assistance to Cuba Amid Fire Disaster

"Now is the time," said Reps. Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, and Gregory Meeks, to "prioritize humanitarian engagement, environmental protection, and regional cooperation."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo