Cashing In on Climate Change


nytimes.com | Published DEC. 3, 2016

Moises Velasquez-Manoff

You’ve saved your money and amassed a surplus. You’ve read a few books on investing and gleaned the basics — the importance of diversification, of investing for the long term, and of buying and holding rather than trying to beat the market. But you also know that human-caused climate change will (if it hasn’t already) start eroding economic output. Extreme weather, droughts and crop failures could mean mass migration and political instability. As Henry Paulson, the former Treasury secretary, recently put it, the “greenhouse-gas crisis” won’t burst like the housing bubble of 2008 because “climate change is more subtle and cruel.”

What’s a climate-aware investor to do?

Individuals aren’t the only ones contemplating this question. Sixty-nine percent of Fortune 500 companies reported more demand for “low carbon” products this year, according to the nonprofit Carbon Disclosure Project. And some of the country’s largest pension funds, including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System and New York State’s retirement fund, have begun tilting away from fossil fuels.

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