Stand.earth Research Shows Over $800 Million in U.S. Pension Funds Invested in Russian War Chest

Wednesday March 02, 2022

New Stand.earth Data Shows Over $800 Million in U.S. Pension Funds Invested in Russian War Chest

Stand.earth Research Shows Millions From California, Massachusetts, Washington, Alaska, New York, and More Heavily Invested in Russian Oil and Gas

Traditional Lummi and Nooksack Land and Unceded and Coast Salish Territories (BELLINGHAM, WA) — Today, Stand.earth revealed new research showing how over $800 million USD of U.S public pension funds are still invested in the top five Russian oil and gas companies, despite the international outcry against Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The pensions include the retirement plans for California and New York teachers, state investments from Washington, Alaska, and New Jersey, as well as public employee retirement plans for Colorado and Massachusetts, among others. 

Since Putin began his illegal invasion last week, many government and corporate actors have begun to sever relationships with Russian oil and gas majors — including Norway, BP, Shell, and Exxon – but billions of dollars remain invested in Russia’s oil and gas majors. 

“We know banks, insurance companies, and institutional investors like pension funds are the great enablers of climate chaos, but the war in the Ukraine makes it tragically clear that they're the enablers of military chaos as well,” Stand.earth Executive Director Todd Paglia said. “By financing and subsidizing fossil fuel companies like Rosneft and Gazprom, these financial institutions are complicit in climate-fueled global conflict, vulnerability, and instability. Public pension funds are meant to be the longest-term investors, and these institutions have an obligation to use their power to pressure Russia to end this conflict. They can make a real difference by divesting from Rosneft, Lukoil, Gazprom, and the other Russian carbon majors that fuel Putin’s war chest.”

On Monday, Stand.earth released data showing how top Canadian financial institutions remain invested in Russian oil and gas, and on Tuesday the environmental organization did the same for U.S. financial institutions. None of these institutions have yet signaled an end to their investments, despite global pressure to do so.  

To view the research, click here.

Todd Paglia: “It’s clear banks, financial institutions, and governments themselves need to see this moment as a wake up call to mobilize capital toward building a more secure clean energy system. By financing fossil fuel companies, our financial institutions are bankrolling the continued production and burning of coal, oil, and gas -- driving up methane and carbon pollution at the very time we need to do the exact opposite: urgently and rapidly slash emissions, and invest in climate solutions. This conflict clearly shows how dangerous our dependence on a fossil fuel system is, especially one that concentrates power in the hands of someone like Putin.”

Oil and gas exports from Rosneft, Gazprom, Surgutneftegas, Transneft, and Lukoil are essential to Russia’s ability to fund its military, and its ability to maintain leverage in global politics. Research from Carbon Brief has shown that Russia accounts for 17% of overall global gas output, and 12% of global oil output. Oil and gas made up 60 per cent of exports and nearly 40 percent of Russia’s revenue in 2019. The country receives upwards of $500 million in revenue every day from oil and gas.

Many corporations and government institutions are already taking action against Russian oil and gas companies in light of the illegal invasion. BP, for example, recently announced it would sell its 19.75% voting stake in Rosneft, effective immediately, and New York State has just introduced a bill that would direct the state pension funds to divest from all Russian companies.  

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CONTACT: Travis Nichols, Communications Director, Stand.earth +1 404.432.1362 travis@stand.earth

METHODOLOGY: Full asset listings and details for public pension funds are inconsistently available. Some public pension funds like New York State and California annually publish on their websites full asset listings for the funds which include number of shares, market value and base costs along with the names of individual companies held. Other funds, such as Oregon and Alaska make such information available upon request with some requests fulfilled quickly, others requiring significant follow-up or time. Some funds only share information after the filing of a formal Freedom of Information type request. The value of these holdings are based on the data available in the disclosures from funds themselves. References and links to assets for each fund can be found on page 24-27 of the Quiet Culprit: Pensions Fund Bankrolling the Climate Crisis report.

Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with offices in Canada and the United States that is known for its groundbreaking research and successful corporate and citizens engagement campaigns to create new policies and industry standards in protecting forests, advocating the rights of indigenous peoples, and protecting the climate. Visit us at www.stand.earth and follow us on Twitter @standearth.