NYC pension funds to divest $4bn from fossil fuel industry

It is expected to be one of the largest divestments from the oil and gas sector so far

Louise Boyle
Senior Climate Correspondent in New York
Monday 25 January 2021 18:53
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New York City’s largest pension funds have voted in favor of dumping fossil fuel investments, selling off an estimated $4 billion in holdings.

The move is expected to be one of the largest divestments from oil and gas corporations in the world. The city’s pension funds have a combined value of $239bn.

“Fossil fuels are not only bad for our planet and our frontline communities, they are a bad investment,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

“Our first-in-the-nation divestment is literally putting money where our mouth is when it comes to climate change. Divestment is a bold investment in our children and grandchildren, and our planet. I applaud the trustees, advocates and experts for their hard work, and I look forward to seeing more cities around the world join this call for change.”

New York City made the commitment to get out of fossil fuel investments three years ago and the decision inspired a wave of similar actions around the world.  

Other large funds, including the City of London, the Norwegian Sovereign Fund, and the New York State Common Retirement Fund, also pledged to take their money out of the oil and gas industry. 

Bill McKibben, author and co-founder of environmental organization 350.org, said that the city had “set a new bar” for climate finance action.

“By taking billions out of the companies that own and profit off of fossil fuels, New York City is playing an enormous role in moving the financial industry towards a greener future,” he said.

According to GoFossilFree.org, some $14.5 trillion is being divested from oil, gas or coal industries. Some 1,308 entities have divested including faith-based organisations and colleges, and more than 58,000 individuals.

Major shifts are taking place from fossil fuels to renewables. Renewables overtook fossil fuels as the European Union’s main source of electricity for the first time in 2020 as new projects came online and coal-power shrank, Reuters reported on Monday.

In 2019, renewable energy made up roughly 11 per cent of total US energy consumption and about 17 per cent of electricity generation.

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