Media Roundup — January 20, 2022

Welcome to the Climate Finance Media Roundup: a (now) bi-weekly curated digest of top stories and major developments in the climate finance space.

You can explore more about the Climate Safe Pensions Network here, and more on’s Climate Finance campaign here.

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Yale Climate Connections – Big numbers – dollars and institutions – behind divestments from fossil fuels

“McCormick says that if leaders across a wide array of industries and institutions prioritize climate action, real change could be possible. As the next generation of leaders pushes for these changes, they are sending a signal on what today’s youth and tomorrow’s leaders value. The reality that some institutions are under pressure to divest – and many do divest – showcases the power these activists have to influence change.”

CNN – ‘Off the charts’: Weather disasters have cost the US $750 billion over past 5 years

“Last year was the second consecutive year with 20 or more billion-dollar disasters, something that had never occurred before 2020’s record-breaking 22. But the price tag in 2021 was $50 billion more and the extreme weather was far more deadly. At least 688 people died in the 20 events last year, NOAA reports, which was more than double the death toll of 2020.”

Financial Times – BlackRock’s Fink rejects accusations of being ‘woke’

“Fink defended BlackRock’s strategy to engage with companies on the carbon transition rather than divesting altogether, arguing that companies themselves cannot be the ‘climate police’ but must work with governments… ‘We focus on sustainability not because we’re environmentalists, but because we are capitalists and fiduciaries to our clients,’ he wrote.”

The Globe and Mail – Financial sector faces climate transition risk, says BoC and banking regulator

“Canada’s long-term economic growth and the stability of its financial system could be put at risk if the country delays implementing policies to deal with the transition to a low-carbon world, the central bank and the banking regulator say in a report analyzing a range of possible climate scenarios.”

Pensions & Investments – Investors grapple with physical climate risks, long-term impacts

“Investors are stepping up efforts to understand and better manage the impact of climate change on their physical investments in real assets, including private equity, from farmlands to urban office buildings. It is an increasingly urgent mission as the transition to a net-zero economy ramps up.”

Jacobin Magazine – Public Pension Funds Are Massive Investors in Fossil Fuels

California’s top investment funds have resisted divestment from fossil fuels and funneled big money into firms like those behind Dakota Access. Not only are these investments dirty, but they’re costing public workers billions in the process.”

San Mateo Daily Journal – San Mateo County to divest from fossil fuels

“Conceding to pressures to divest from fossil fuel companies, San Mateo County Treasurer Sandie Arnott directed the firm that manages the county’s assets to no longer invest in such companies.”

Ms Magazine – We Need More Women in Leadership at the Fed: Personnel Is Policy

“At the end of the day, justifying the unethical and status quo leadership of white men in powerful economic policymaking roles hurts us all, but especially Black and Brown women. Issues like the Fed’s apparent insider trading scandal—let alone our government’s inept response to the pandemic, climate change, and the consequences for women and women of color caused by these and many other crises—point to a clear need for a diverse set of leadership at the Fed and across our government more broadly that is committed to public service, not personal profiteering.”

Intelligent CIO – Canadian defined benefit pension plans’ financial health improves in 2021

“2021 was a spectacular year for Canadian pension plans funding, with both interest rates and risk-seeking assets going up,” said Erwan Pirou, Canada Chief Investment Officer, Wealth Solutions, Aon. “But with inflation reaching record highs in North America, they will be watching closely if central banks deliver on the expected rate hikes in the next few months and how meaningful they will be. Longer-term, ensuring the sustainability of plan assets to climate change is becoming a more pressing issue as well.” 

Bloomberg – Exxon in Danger of Being Next Blockbuster, Kodak, CalSTRS CIO Says

Exxon Mobil Corp. has failed to embrace new, climate-conscious directors and is in danger of going the way of Eastman Kodak Co. and Blockbuster Video if it sits out the transition away from fossil fuels, said CalSTRS Chief Investment Officer Christopher Ailman.”

Fast Company – Was 2021 the tipping point for fossil fuel divestment?

“Major announcements from large investors skyrocketed the total amount of assets under management by organizations that have committed to not investing in oil, gas, and coal.”

Forward – Roadblocks ahead as activists push for Jewish fossil fuel divestment

“But Aroneanu said that external pressure on investment managers in the Jewish community is likely to increase. Jewish voters listed climate change as their top priority in a Jewish Electoral Institute poll last year, well ahead of issues including Israel, Iran and antisemitism, and they may demand that their synagogues and local institutions go beyond the proactive focus on installing solar panels and holding educational workshops that Aroneanu said has made up much of the community’s environmental activism up to now.”

Gizmodo – Exxon Pretends to Give a Shit

“Exxon’s pledge to have its operations reach net zero by 2050 is like saying you’ll stop smoking while still buying cartons of cigarettes and handing them out to school kids. Sure, your cancer risk may be a lot lower but it’s not exactly a public health success. Among the ways that Exxon will reduce emissions using “lower-emission fuels” to dig up more fossil fuels, so it’s even sneaking a cigarette on the fire escape every now and then itself.”

The Daily Poster – Big Oil’s California Connection

State insurance commissioner Ricardo Lara has taken campaign money and gifts from fossil fuel interests and ‘done almost nothing’ to address climate change.”

Reuters – Citigroup sets rare hard target to reduce energy-sector emissions

“Several of those groups on Wednesday praised Citi’s approach over rivals but said the New York bank should do more to restrict lending to the oil and gas industries. ‘The bank should require companies to end expansion of fossil fuels as an explicit criterion in its client assessment,’ said Jason Opeña Disterhoft, a representative of the Rainforest Action Network, via e-mail.”