August 12, 2015
BHGR’s summer law clerks, Jessica Pingleton and Lucas Westerman, assisted partner Rudy Verner on a pro bono project concerning the relationship between pension fund investments and climate change. Working in conjunction with the Washington D.C.-based Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the summer clerks performed research on whether the fiduciary duties that pension fund managers owe to their beneficiaries allows them to consider the effects of climate change when making investment decisions. Their research focused on New York trust law and the interpretative guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Labor under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, better known as ERISA. The clerks’ findings were reported in a memorandum which CIEL plans to incorporate into a final report targeted at both public and private pension fund managers in the United States. The goal of CIEL’s work in this area is to alert pension fund managers to the economic risks associated with continued investment in companies involved in the extraction of carbon-based fuels.