NYC to Divest from Fossil Fuels and Sue the Big Oil Companies
NYC’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced this week his administration’s intention to divest the city’s pension funds from any fossil fuel related investments. This amounts to approximately 5 billion dollars worth of assets, out of the entire $189 billion pension pool. Serious coin. Understanding that this can be potentially complicated, as the funds need to maintain certain returns and so forth, but the goal is to achieve this within 5 years.
While the amount is significant, it might not prove devastating to the fossil fuel industry. However, it also works to send a message that NYC is listening to the concerns of its citizens and attempting to demonstrate leadership when it comes to combating climate change. The city has already been feeling the effects of global warming, particularly with the beating it took from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The mayor has therefore made it clear that he does not stand with the Trump administration in their decision to pull the US from the Paris Climate Accord, but would rather stand with concerned citizens who want to protect their environment (and consequently themselves) from catastrophic climate change.
The Extra Step
On top of this decision to divest, NYC is also looking to take legal action against the top 5 oil companies for their role in perpetuating climate change. These include BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell. Much like with the tobacco companies, these companies are believed to have known (for decades) of their direct contribution to climate change, and proceeded to spend millions on misinforming the general public (http://exxonknew.org/). De Blasio explained that, “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,” (The Guardian).
It certainly feels good to see this kind of news in your feed, and hopefully it helps generate some optimism in the face of climate change. There are indeed people out there who care about what is happening to our planet, and this recent decision on the part of the city’s administration, is due in large part to those people. Yes, the markets are also beginning to turn towards renewables, but the change that is taking place is ultimately a result of the efforts of a passionate group of individuals and organizations, and NYC is now one of many cities (and investment funds) that is joining the divestment trend.