Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

New York City Announces Plan To Divest From Fossil Fuels

New York City Announces Plan To Divest From Fossil Fuels

New York City announced on Wednesday that it filed a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against five top oil companies, citing their "contributions to global warming", as it said it would divest fossil fuel investments from its $189-billion public pension funds over the next five years.

"New York City vaulted to leadership in the battle" against climate change, writes author and campaigner Bill McKibben for the Guardian.

Mayor de Blasio's progressive political agenda, his resistance to President Trump, and his personal aspirations to run for President in 2020 are a very risky combo for New York City workers and residents.

The biggest city in the US sued BP Plc, Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp., and Royal Dutch Shell Plc claiming they're the world's largest industrial contributors to climate change. Many areas in New York City are built in low-lying wetlands, including JFK airport. "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 NY safer and more resilient".

The lawsuits are the latest legal challenges against oil companies over climate change and come as the firms are searching for new business models amid pressure by governments and consumers for cleaner energy. The New Yorkers' pension funds are now worth $189 billion. NY state had previously subpoenaed (request for evidence by court order) documents from Exxon, in 2016, in a bid to uncover whether the oil company misled investors over the risks of climate change. But, even if there was, blaming this on the oil companies alone is disingenuous.

New York's five pension funds are a combined $64.8 billion in debt, according to the city's official numbers, which assumes that the funds will earn annual investment returns of at least 7 percent in perpetuity.

In 2016, a coalition of attorneys general - called and led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman - formed to combat the climate crisis. They're claiming this move is "among the most significant divestment efforts in the world to date".

Yet buildings account for about, creating a steep political challenge for a mayor who, to the chagrin of the progressive activists who helped elect him, spent much of his first term.

"Today, the mightiest city on our planet takes on its most powerful industry - its richest, most powerful and most irresponsible industry", said Bill McKibben, the co-founder of 350.org. "Science and economics and morality are on the side of this city, and so it will eventually win".

New York City is taking a stand, and it is a city that tends to set the fashion.

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