Global plans to decarbonise the planet are “too fast and impractical, and not compassionate” because the associated costs will plunge American households into economic depression, according to a veteran US pension plan investor.

Britt Harris, who spent more than 10 years as CIO of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and is currently acting CEO and CIO of the Texas Permanent School Fund (among other posts), said not enough attention is being paid to the vast sums required to achieve the energy transition ($275 trillion by 2050 according to consulting firm McKinsey).

“Everybody’s been selling this plan, and nobody’s telling you how much it costs… I’d like to have a Rolls-Royce if you tell me it’s free, but when you tell me it costs a million dollars, I’m probably going to stay with a Volkswagen,” he said.

Harris was speaking on the opening day of NEXUS 2024. Five hundred LPs, GPs and advisers are in Orlando for the the event, a private equity gathering hosted by PEI Group, which started on Wednesday.

Harris acknowledged the need to “stop using hydrocarbons going forward, and to the extent we can, reduce the hydrocarbons that we’re using now”. He also urged the audience to consider the fact that “until hydrocarbons came around, there was no growth in the world at all”.

Elswhere on the day one NEXUS stage, recurring themes among the speakers were artificial intelligence, relations between China and the US and, more broadly, where we find ourselves amid investment and financial cycles.

“We feel much better today about our ability to create value inside these companies than, I think, we ever have,” said Scott Nuttall, co-CEO of KKR.

Co-chairman of Oaktree Capital Management Howard Marks urged the audience to be mindful of distorted investment behaviour brought on by decades of low interest rates, and not expect the same return prospects for private markets in the near term.

The conference continues Thursday and Friday, with a New Private Markets-focused track zeroing in on ESG, the energy transition and impact investing still to come.