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New York City pension funds investing $4B in green initiatives

The five pension funds will invest 2 percent of their combined portfolios into green bonds and private entities that specialize in areas such as clean water and renewable energy.

City pensions' expanded investment in green initiatives is

City pensions' expanded investment in green initiatives is announced by Comptroller Scott Stringer, left, and Mayor Bill de Blasio, center, on Thursday. Photo Credit: Ivan Pereira

The city’s pension system is banking on a new kind of greenback, officials said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced Thursday that the city’s five pension funds will increase their investments in green initiatives and firms to a total of $4 billion — or 2 percent of their combined portfolios — over the next three years. De Blasio said the move would be one of the largest green investments made by a city’s pension system, and would send a message to other municipalities around the world.

“We’re not just investing in solar; we’re not just investing in hydro; we’re not just investing in wind power . . . we’re investing in momentum in change,” de Blasio said.

Stringer, who sits on the board of all the pension funds, said his office will bring investment recommendations to the pension boards to help them make changes. The plans would shift more equity into green bonds and private entities that specialize in areas such as clean water and renewable energy.

About 1 percent of the combined pension portfolio, or $2 billion, is already invested in green programs, according to the comptroller.

“I think we have the road map [going] forward,” Stringer said.

Michael Mulgrew, the president of United Federation of Teachers, said the beneficiaries of the Teachers Retirement System have always supported investments in funds that would help improve the well-being of the city.

“When you see good behavior you should say, ‘Support it.’ And now we’re going to invest in the good behavior, which is smart energy,” Mulgrew said.

The move comes months after Stringer sought a request for recommendations on divesting $5 billion in fossil fuels from the pension systems. The comptroller said his office received 20 responses, and he has invited the proposers to meet with the boards at the end of September for a presentation.

“We are accelerating the pace,” Stringer said.

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