The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Denali Nalamalapu

New York State Pension Fund Divests From 7 Tar Sands Companies

First state pension fund in the USA to join tar sands investor exodus.


The New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced todaythat the massive $246 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund completed a review of its oil sands holdings and has divested from seven tar sands companies. The companies divested include: Imperial Oil, Canadian Natural Resources, Husky Energy, MEG Energy Corp., Athabasca Oil Corporation, Cenovus Energy, and Japan Petroleum Exploration.

"Alberta's oilpatch is the dirtiest of the dirtiest--there's no need for this crude, and no place for it on a planet serious about the climate crisis. Kudos to Tom DiNapoli for making it clear that you can't build your retirement on tarsands," said Bill McKibben, 350.orgfounder.

The companies were found to present too great a risk to the fund due to lack of transition plans and alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement goals of keeping temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. In a groundbreaking announcement in December 2020, Comptroller DiNapoli detailed a plan to review the fund's entire portfolio of fossil fuel companies and divest from the riskiest companies by 2025 as well as achieve net zero emissions by invested companies by 2040. The Fund will now begin to review shale oil and gas companies, a major source of water and air pollution.

"DivestNY is committed to getting NY's public pension funds to divest from fossil fuels. It is wrong to be invested in companies that are destroying the planet, and it is also financially unwise, considering that the world is transitioning to renewables, which is causing fossil fuel values to steadily decline. We are proud of Comptroller DiNapoli for the Common Retirement Fund's rigorous review of its tar sands holdings and for his ongoing commitment to protect NY retirees and taxpayers from risky fossil fuel investments." - Jordan Dale, Divest NY Coalition

Suncor Energy and Tatneft which were reviewed but not divested from will be added to a risk watch list and re-assessed in a year. The tar sands review follows on the pension fund divesting from 22 thermal coal companies last June after a similarly extensive review. The fund has committed to invest more than $20 billion in climate solutions including sustainable investments such as green bonds, clean and renewable energy infrastructure and LEED-certified real estate.

"The first state pension fund in North America to divest from tar sands is no small matter. This is only the beginning as other North American pension funds are increasingly recognizing that the tar sands is a risky investment both for pensioners and our planet," said Richard Brooks with "It's time to pivot to clean, safe renewable energy. That's where the smart money, led by New York, is headed."

Capital expenditures in the tar sands have dropped by more than 64.6% from 2014 through 2019. In recent years oil majors like Shell, Statoil, ConocoPhillips and even Koch Industries have left the tar sands altogether and in February of this year ExxonMobil cut its tar sands reserves by 98%. Last year alone saw over C$14 billion stranded assets in the oil sands. Write downs included C$2.8 billion by Suncor, C$1.13 billion by Teck, C$9.3 billion by Total, and C$1.2 billion by Imperial Oil. The US-based Global Energy Monitorrecently reported an additional US$32 billion in oil and gas pipelines are at risk of becoming stranded assets in Canada.

There are now more than 1,300 institutions with more than $14 trillion in assets that have committed to some form of fossil fuel divestment. These include pension funds, universities and colleges, faith and philanthropic organizations and cities and countries. Last month, New York City, which had earlier committed to divest from fossil fuels, announced it had tripled investments in climate solutions such as renewables to $6 billion.

"It is wonderful news that one of the largest pension funds is divesting from tar sands, the world's dirtiest fuel. We await a similar announcement from the New York State Teachers' Pension fund in the near future." - Sally Courtright, The Climate Reality Project: Capital Region, NY Chapter

The DivestNY coalition is a multigenerational, multiracial effort to divest all of New York's pension funds from fossil fuels. Building on the recent big wins at the city and state level, the coalition has turned its sights on convincing the $125 billion NYS Teachers Retirement System, the 7th largest in the country to divest.

350 is building a future that's just, prosperous, equitable and safe from the effects of the climate crisis. We're an international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.