Despite the well-pronouced and increasingly strident warnings from scientists about the deleterious effects of burning fossil fuels on the environment, there is a surprising amount of “business as usual” going on in corporate America. This makes the news about the way Anne Stausboll, the chief executive of Calpers, addresses climate change all the more impressive.
According to an article in the Financial Times by Stephen Foley entitled, “Anne Stausboll, Calpers CEO: the $300bn woman,” Stausboll takes the long-terms risks of climate change seriously. There’s good reason: Calpers, the largest pension fund in the US, administers pension plans for more than 3,000 state and local governmental organizations across California with hundreds of thousands of employees’ future retirement wealth at stake. Thus, Calpers is not only asking that corporations assess the risks that climate change poses to their business, it is putting motions to corporate shareholder meetings demanding both assessments and more environmentally friendsly practices across corporate American—including at oil and gas companies. Says Stausboll,
“Our portfolio has to be sustainable for decades and generations, and . . . to make the portfolio sustainable, the companies we invest in have to be sustainable.”
As a vegetarian and lawyer with social justice experience, former deputy to State Treasurer, Phil Angelides, Stausboll has had decades of experience pushing corporate executives and boards of directors to do the right thing. Now, as head of Calpers, Stausboll is taking the next step to try to make it easier for shareholders to nominate their own directors to boards, in order to make those boards less “male, pale and stale” and more responsive to the demands of society. We think this is a very good thing.