December 19, 2017

New York City and State plan to #DivestNY’s $390 billion pensions from fossil fuels: “an undeniable victory for the global divestment movement”

New York, NY — Today, after over five years of community campaigning for New York to divest from fossil fuels, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Governor Andrew Cuomo each released separate proposals to freeze all current fossil fuel investments, divest New York’s public pension funds fossil fuel companies, and reinvest in renewable energy. Together, New York’s pension funds are among the largest in the world, representing a combined $390 billion.

This comes after a year of traumatic climate impacts — from hurricanes devastating Puerto Rico, Houston, and beyond, to wildfires engulfing California. Now, with dangerous assaults from the Trump administration, New York’s elected officials are stepping up.

Bill McKibben, 350.org co-founder, issued the following statement:

“The dam has broken: after years of great activism, New York has taken a massive step towards divesting from fossil fuels. Coming from the capital of world finance, this will resonate loud and clear all over the planet. It’s a crucial sign of how fast the financial pendulum is swinging away from fossil fuels.”

Betámia Coronel, 350.org’s US Reinvestment Coordinator and Coordinator of the #DivestNY coalition, added:

“This victory is a direct result of people power and years-long pressure for New York to divest from fossil fuel companies causing climate change. Following Public Advocate Tish James’ leadership, in an undeniable victory for the global divestment movement, New York’s elected officials are finally recognizing the risk of pouring billions into the likes of ExxonMobil. We commend Comptroller Scott Stringer and Governor Andrew Cuomo for this powerful step in prioritizing the health and safety of New Yorkers.

“There is no time to waste. We look forward to working the Governor, Comptrollers and City Public Advocate to make these commitments reality. We will hold every elected official accountable in the fast and just transition to the fossil free world that truly puts our communities first.”

The broad and diverse coalition to #DivestNY has been building power across New York City and State to call on our elected officials to cut ties with fossil fuels. Now, this announcement comes on the heels of New York City Public Advocate Tish James’ leadership urging divestment, the 5000-strong Sandy5 march, and over five years of campaigning by environmental, social, and climate justice groups for New York’s elected officials to stand on the right side of history.

Just last week, AXA Insurance, the World Bank, Johns Hopkins University, Barnard College, and more made major announcements cutting ties with the fossil fuel economy.

To date, over 800 institutions representing more than $5.2 trillion in assets have committed to divest. Additional New York institutions that have cut ties with fossil fuel companies include the iconic Riverside Church, Cooperstown, Barnard College, Columbia University, Syracuse University, the American Museum of Natural History.

QUOTE SHEET:

Rachel Rivera, a Sandy Survivor and member of New York Communities for Change (NYCC), said:

“During Sandy, the water took everything from me in a storm supercharged by climate change. My family back in Puerto Rico is still without power and resources due to a devastating hurricane. This did not happen by chance, I know this is caused by corporations like ExxonMobil that continue to profit from a business model that destroys the planet. Today, I am happy to congratulate Governor Cuomo and Comptroller DiNapoli for making New York the leading state in the country fighting against climate change. It’s both morally bankrupt and bad finance to invest our public funds in climate destruction. Now at the city level, Public Advocate James has pointed the way, and Comptroller Stringer has rightly responded by moving forward with fossil fuel divestment to protect all New Yorkers and the planet.”

Mimi Bluestone of 350 Brooklyn, said:

“350 Brooklyn welcomes this step by Governor Cuomo and Comptroller Stringer towards climate sanity. New York City pensioners’ hard earned money should not be invested in activities that devastate our shorelines and wreak havoc on our climate. As a retired NYC teacher, I’m happy to know that the City pension funds will be moving away from investing in activities that will harm the students I spent my career teaching.

Carl Chipman, Rochester Supervisor and representative of Elected Officials to Protect New York, said:

“On behalf of 220 officials from 50 counties who have urged Comptroller DiNapoli to protect our pensioners by divesting from fossil fuels, we applaud Governor Cuomo’s call to align New York’s investments with our values. We must phase out the billions invested in fossil fuels whose business model harms New York taxpayers and threatens the stable future for retirees that pension funds are intended to provide.”

Denise Patel, Divest Invest Network, Coordinator, said:

“Financial markets are finally waking up to the reality that climate change is here. With the World Bank planning to end oil and gas financing, and major insurers and pension funds, ING, Axa, and Storebrand, moving money away from fossil fuels towards sustainable solutions, the moral imperative set forth by the DivestInvest movement has clearly become a mainstream financial solution to tackle the existential threat that is climate change. We hope Comptroller DiNapoli quickly follows the lead of these top global investors and we commend New York’s climate leaders Governor Cuomo, Senator Liz Krueger, Comptroller Stringer, and Public Advocate Letitia James for leading the charge.”

Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith, Executive Director, said:

“New York City’s divestment commitment is a blessing to future generations, vulnerable communities, and our precious planet. It is the right thing to do and we praise this demonstration of leadership.”

Mark Dunlea, former steering Committee member of 350 NYC, said:

“It is great news that after 5 years Scott Stringer is recognizing the moral and financially imperative to end the pension fund’s investments in planet destroying fossil fuels. We hope the pension boards will agree to divest.I also appreciate the leadership of PA Advocate Tish James and Mayor De Blasio on DivestInvest in recent years. Thanks is due to the tireless work by thousands of volunteers in groups like 350.”

Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, Senior Minister, The Riverside Church in the City of New York, said:

“The moral arc of the universe is long, but it does bend toward justice.  My faith teaches that we are called to be good stewards of creation and to care for our neighbors.  This means breaking our sinful dependency on fossil fuels, the burning of which is destroying the planet and harming the most vulnerable among us.  The decision by New York to divest from fossil fuels is a landmark achievement in living into a better world for all.”

David Levine, President, American Sustainable Business Council, said:

“The business and economic case for taking greater action on climate change is clear to companies throughout New York State. By divesting, NYS and NYC can now reap the benefits of investment in a clean and healthy economy, growing business and creating jobs while protecting our health and environment. A win for business and all of us in NYS.”

Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon, co-founders, Pathway to Paris, said:

In early November, Pathway to Paris brought together musicians, activists, writers, politicians to share in a night of music and talks at Carnegie Hall, with a shared vision of moving into the era of renewable energy. During Bill McKibben’s time on stage he asked the audience to write a letter to NY Comptroller Scott Stringer, urging him to divest New York’s pension fund from fossil fuels, resulting in 3000 letters that were then sent to him over the following weeks. This was a true moment of a diversity of beautiful voices coming together making profound change resulting in a best practice for the world. People indeed have the power.”

Bob Rossi, Director, New York Sustainable Business Council, said:
“New York’s stated intention to divest from fossil fuels is a necessary step in paving the way to a renewable hopeful future for all. The work ahead for us is to support opportunities for New York businesses to fully participate in an economy that is shifting further toward sustainability.”

 

 

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Contact: Lindsay Meiman, lindsay@350.org, +1 (347) 460-9082

For more on the campaign to #DivestNY, visit divestny.org or explore this media pack

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