Dec 20, 2017
Climate activists claimed "an undeniable victory" on Tuesday after New York City and New York State officials called for city and state pension funds to halt investments in fossil fuels.
"The dam has broken," said 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. "After years of great activism, New York has taken a massive step towards divesting from fossil fuels. Coming from the capital of world finance, this will resonate loud and clear all over the planet. It's a crucial sign of how fast the financial pendulum is swinging away from fossil fuels."
New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said in a statement that his office "will bring a proposal to the trustees of the NYC pension funds in the coming weeks to examine ways to de-carbonize the portfolios, including the feasibility of ceasing additional investments in fossil fuels, divesting current holdings in fossil fuel companies, and increasing investments in clean energy."
Separately, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a plan for "a de-carbonization roadmap" for the New York State Common Retirement Funds, and called for an end to "new investments in entities with significant fossil fuel-related activities" and instead a dedication of "a meaningful portion of the Fund's portfolio to investments that directly promote clean energy--which makes economic and environmental sense."
\u201cWith @NYSComptroller, New York State will begin planning to divest the state retirement fund from fossil fuels.\u201d— Archive: Governor Andrew Cuomo (@Archive: Governor Andrew Cuomo) 1513731071
Holding over $200 billion in retirement assets--including $1 billion invested in ExxonMobil alone--the state retirement fund is the third largest public pension system in the nation. Cuomo's statement also notes that the fund "listed holdings in more than 50 oil and gas companies that have been identified as among the 100 most carbon-intensive in the world."
"This victory is a direct result of people power and years-long pressure for New York to divest from fossil fuel companies causing climate change."
--Betamia Coronel, 350.orgDemocratic State Senator Liz Krueger praised the move, saying the "announcement sends an important message that it is no longer acceptable to profit from a business model that perpetuates the destruction of our climate."
As groups who advocate for such divestment were quick to note, the announcements follow years of grassroots activism.
"This victory is a direct result of people power and years-long pressure for New York to divest from fossil fuel companies causing climate change," said Betamia Coronel, 350.org's U.S. reinvestment coordinator and coordinator of the #DivestNY coalition. She called it "an undeniable victory for the global divestment movement," and said that "New York's elected officials are finally recognizing the risk of pouring billions into the likes of ExxonMobil. We commend Comptroller Scott Stringer and Governor Andrew Cuomo for this powerful step in prioritizing the health and safety of New Yorkers."
"There is no time to waste," she added. "We will hold every elected official accountable in the fast and just transition to the fossil free world that truly puts our communities first."
The development was celebrated on Twitter, with social media users calling it "huge," a "big win," and a "victory."
\u201cThis Is How You Win On Climate: New York City and State plan to #DivestNY\u2019s $390 billion pensions from fossil fuels: \u201can undeniable victory for the global divestment movement\u201d #ActOnClimate\u201d— Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali (@Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali) 1513736844
\u201cBIG WIN: @NYGovCuomo and @NYSComptroller announce NEW YORK STATE will dump pension fund investments in fossil fuels!!! #DIVESTNY\u201d— New York Communities for Change (@New York Communities for Change) 1513724347
\u201cHUGE! New York City & State will divest their combined $390 billion pensions from fossil fuel companies destroying our #climate. A big bold climate leadership move from @NYGovCuomo @NYCComptroller and big praise to @NYCPA for pushing so loudly. https://t.co/PDtacYotFm #DivestNY\u201d— Richard Brooks \u2600\ufe0f (@Richard Brooks \u2600\ufe0f) 1513730797
\u201cAnd all God's people said? #Amen!\n\nThe earth is the Lord's and everything in it. #DivestNY\n\nhttps://t.co/WOhpAzQgDd\u201d— The Riverside Church (@The Riverside Church) 1513778419
\u201cVICTORY! After 5+ years of people-powered pressure, the dam has broken: New York is divesting its pension funds from dirty fossil fuels. Find out how you can join our fight for a fast and just transition to a #FossilFree world. https://t.co/WL6k19ASHZ #divestny\u201d— 350 dot org (@350 dot org) 1513727234
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