New York City to divest $5bn pension funds from fossil fuel companies

EBR Staff Writer Published 11 January 2018

The New York City (NYC) has announced its plan to divest pension funds of $5bn from fossil fuel companies.

It has also sued five largest fossil fuel companies for their contribution to the climate change and its impact on the city.

The announcement made by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and other trustees of the City’s $189bn pension funds, target to divest $5bn in securities from nearly 200 fossil fuel companies over the next five years.

New York City has also sued five largest fossil fuel companies including BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, seeking damages for the climate impact on the city in the past and future.

Blasio said: “New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major US city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels.”

“At the same time, we’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits.

“As climate change continues to worsen, it’s up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient.”

Commenting on the action, Exxon Mobil said in a statement: “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue and requires global participation and actions.

“We are committed to participating in serious attempts to address climate change and to being part of the solution.”

New York City seeks to recover billions of dollars from oil and gas companies to undertake climate resiliency measures including building physical infrastructure like coastal protections, upgraded water and sewer infrastructure, and heat mitigation measures.

New York officials said that the city is already implementing  over $20bn resiliency program, which aims to prepare the city to face  future climate events by building resilient infrastructure against rising seas, more powerful storms, and hotter temperatures.

NYC climate policy and programs senior director and chief resilience officer Daniel Zarrilli said that burning of fossil fuels is the single largest contributor to climate change.

“By seeking damages for the investments necessary to protect New Yorkers from the impacts of climate change, and divesting our pension funds from fossil fuel reserves, we are taking the largest action by any city to confront the growing climate crisis and demonstrate the leadership necessary to win this fight against fossil fuels and the damages they’ve caused.”


Image: The New York City intends to fight climate change. Photo: courtesy of City of New York.

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