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Bill de Blasio and Sadiq Khan

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (L) and London Mayor Sadiq Khan (R) participated in a forum on inclusive cities and combating Islamophobia hosed by Laguardia Community College in Queens on Sept. 18, 2016. (Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

London and NYC Mayors Call on Every Major City in the World to Divest From Climate-Destroying Fossil Fuels

"Instead of having to move cities, let's move money!"

Ahead of a forum for local leaders from across the globe scheduled for March, Mayors Bill de Blasio of New York and Sadiq Khan of London on Tuesday urged every major city in the world to divest from the fossil fuel industries that are wrecking the planet.

"This toolkit will demonstrate to other cities that taking action on divestment is not only achievable but also essential to investing in our future."
—London Mayor Sadiq Khan

As part of their global call, the mayors unveiled a toolkit for cities interested in divesting their pension funds from fossil fuels "to help avert climate breakdown."

Divesting from Fossil Fuels, Investing in Our Future: A Toolkit for Cities (pdf) is a product of C40 Cities, a network of 94 municipalities whose leaders collectively represent over 700 million people and are committed to pursuing actions to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

"By taking Divest/Invest action, mayors around the world can demonstrate their strong climate leadership and signal their support for achieving the crucial 1.5°C goal," the toolkit says, referencing the Paris accord's aim to limit global temperature rise this century.

The resource frames fossil fuel divestment and sustainable investment as an important piece of comprehensive strategies to tackle the global climate crisis while also demonstrating the financial benefits with case studies from Berlin, London, Oslo, and Stockholm.

"There is ample evidence that Divest/Invest action on a portfolio level has no negative financial implications—indeed it may even have a positive impact—and can be fully aligned with pension fund trustees' fiduciary duties," the executive summary explains.

The toolkit details six key steps that city officials should take to join the global movement: Commit to Divest/Invest; engage the city pension funds; develop and implement policy; monitor progress; communicate progress and engage with external stakeholders; and promote Divest/Invest.

key steps

"These are not easy steps, but they are absolutely necessary," de Blasio said in a statement.

In a foreword for the toolkit, de Blasio wrote of his city's fight for a cleaner future. "I am proud that New York City is the first city in the nation to set in motion a comprehensive divestment and investment strategy as part of our New York City Green New Deal," he wrote, "a massive effort to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, which also includes mandating changes to buildings and powering city government with renewables."

Khan, who penned the toolkit's second foreword, shared some of his personal experiences with the Divest/Invest movement in the statement Tuesday.

"Over the last three years, London has led from the front on divesting from fossil fuels and addressing the climate emergency," Khan said. "At City Hall, I am working with the London Pensions Fund Authority to take all possible steps to divest its remaining investments in fossil fuel industries. I have also encouraged local authorities and organizations in London to do the same."

"However, we need all cities to act now to help protect our planet for future generations," he added. "So, together with New York and C40, I'm calling on every major city in the world to follow suit. This toolkit will demonstrate to other cities that taking action on divestment is not only achievable but also essential to investing in our future."

The toolkit for cities was released ahead of the C40 Divest/Invest Forum set to be held in NYC March 16–18. The forum will feature a public event, speeches from investment and city leaders, and a closed-door workshop where representatives from cities and their pension funds can discuss divestment strategies and progress.

Along with London and New York City, several cities from across the globe are involved with the forum: Auckland, Boston, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Durban, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Oslo, Paris, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Stockholm.

Bill McKibben, co-founder of the global environmental advocacy group 350.org, welcomed the new toolkit and cities' ongoing efforts in a statement Tuesday.

"Thanks to C40 and leading city mayors like Sadiq Khan and Bill de Blasio, divestment has become a standard—and crucial—part of the toolkit for taking on the climate crisis," McKibben said. "It makes no sense—morally, practically, or financially—to invest in the industries endangering our cities. And on the list of actions humans will have to take to deal with the planet's heating, it combines relatively low cost and effort with remarkably high leverage."

Referencing the frightening conditions that some major coastal cities now face as human activities continue to fuel the global climate emergency, he added: "Instead of having to move cities, let's move money!"

Cities are just part of the global movement to divest from the coal, gas, and oil industries. According to Fossil Free, a project of 350.org, Divest/Invest campaigners have secured commitments from over 1,150 organizations—including faith-based groups, philanthropic foundations, educational institutions, governments, pension funds, corporations, nonprofits, and healthcare entities—with more than $12 trillion in total assets.


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