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CA Pension Funds Put $660 Million Into 'Green' Investments

California's two major public sector pension funds moved forward this week with a $660 million investment in so-called "Green Wave" investments in companies and funds developing environmentally sensitive operations and/or clean technologies and renewable energy projects. State Treasurer Phil Angelides, a candidate for the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination in next year's election, created the green investment push last year as a board member of the two pension funds.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) moved $500 million into public equity investment through six money managers who "will invest this money in environmentally screened stock funds that are performing as well or better than their non-screened counterparts," said Angelides. CalPERS also committed up to $160 million to private equity investments in "cutting-edge clean technologies and renewable energy to create positive, long-term returns and create jobs and economic growth in California in the years ahead," he said.

The Green Wave effort involves both CalPERS and the state teachers' pension fund, CalSTRS, in what Angelides calls a "four-pronged investment strategy" that he claims will improve the state's economy as well as the environment. As the global Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases took effect last February, Angelides won the CalPERS board's approval of his so-called "environmental accountability initiative."

Eventually, the overall program calls for the two pension funds collectively to invest $1.5 billion in the program.

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