Climate Advocates Praise NYC for Plan to Divest Pensions From Fossil Fuels, Sue Big Oil

January 10, 2018

"New York City today becomes a capital of the fight against climate change on this planet,” said Bill McKibben, author and 350.org co-founder. “With its communities exquisitely vulnerable to a rising sea, the city is showing the spirit for which it's famous: it's not pretending that working with the fossil fuel companies will somehow save the day, but instead standing up to them, in the financial markets and in court. Ever since Sandy, New Yorkers understand the risk, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable. Now, thanks to Mayor de Blasio and his team, the city is fighting back, and in ways that will actually matter."

“Right now, the tremendous costs of climate disruption are socialized - the public is stiffed with ballooning bills from mega-disasters and the most vulnerable communities are suffering the worst impacts. Meanwhile, the extravagant profits that flow from overheating our planet are systematically privatized. By suing these five oil majors who knowingly deepened the climate crisis, New York City is taking a game-changing first step in reversing this perverse injustice -  many other cities and states are sure to follow. Today’s double announcement is a reminder that fossil fuel divestment isn’t just a moral decision: it meets the highest standards of fiduciary responsibility as well. In a rapidly warming world, oil, gas and coal stocks are simply too high risk,” said Naomi Klein, author No Is Not Enough, co-founder The Leap.

“This is what climate leadership looks like," said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "To confront the climate crisis, we must hold corporate polluters accountable in the streets, in the boardrooms, and in the courts. In the absence of leadership from the White House, it’s encouraging to see city and state leaders like Mayor de Blasio stepping up and taking meaningful action to defund the fossil fuel industry and fight climate change.”

Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said, “New York City’s impressive leadership makes me hopeful for the future, and the possibilities we have for addressing climate change from the city and state level.  The effects of climate change are here, and they have been devastating. But from coast to coast, cities and communities are finding the solutions we need, like New York City’s major advance today to protect this great city, its citizens, and our climate. Divesting is not only the right thing to do - it’s financially savvy. And this latest lawsuit amplifies the demand that climate polluters pay their share of adapting to the billion-dollar costs of the climate crisis they helped create. New York City’s actions today should be a galvanizing moment for cities around the world, and others should follow suit with ambitious plans and lawsuits of their own.”

“New York City is sending a powerful message that it will hold polluters accountable—on Wall Street and in the courts,” said Rhea Suh, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “While the Trump administration is doing everything it can to roll back the progress our nation has made in fighting climate change, leadership from cities and states is more important than ever. By investing in clean energy sources, cutting climate pollution and divesting from fossil fuels, New York City can offer a much-needed beacon of hope for a better tomorrow.”

“New York City is leading the charge towards a more sustainable and equitable future, and forging a path for other great cities” said David Miller, C40 North American Regional Director and Global Ambassador for Inclusive Climate Action. “I applaud New York’s bold decision to divest from fossil fuels and hold big oil companies accountable. This is a watershed moment not only in the fight against climate change, but for our economy and our society.”

Christiana Figueres, former head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and architect of the Paris climate agreement said, “Today’s announcement is another reminder of New York City’s long-standing position at the cutting edge of culture, as a beacon for entrepreneurs and innovators focused on building a better future. The exponential transition toward a fossil-fuel-free economy is unstoppable and local governments have a critical role to play. There is no time to lose. It’s therefore extremely encouraging to see NYC step up today to safeguard their city and exercise their role as investors to protect their beneficiaries from climate-risk.”

“It’s time to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN, “Sea levels are rising, major storms are occurring with increasing frequency - and it is low income communities and communities of color who are hit the hardest. These companies must pay for the damages they knowingly caused to our city and the planet as a whole. We applaud Mayor de Blasio and Comptroller Scott Stringer for seeking restitution from fossil fuel companies and divesting public funds from them. These two important initiatives show that cities like New York are leading the way in the fight against climate change"

“We commend the Mayor, Comptroller, and trustees of the City's pension funds for their commitment to divest from fossil fuels. We know all too well that low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the greed of the fossil fuel industry and their contribution to climate change. This commitment puts New York City in a position of national leadership and is an important move towards achieving climate justice for communities on the frontline of the crisis,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, UPROSE.

“Frontline communities of color and the Global South are disproportionately vulnerable to the ravages of climate change have long advocated for divestment commitments that reduce our complicity with terracide. As someone with a small city pension, I can also state unequivocally my financial future is inextricably bound to this planet’s future. We applaud Mayor de Blasio, Comptroller Stringer and Public Advocate Tish James for taking the necessary steps in this age of Trump and climate denialism to continue to move the needle forward - for our communities, our City and our children. Bravo!” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of NYC Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA).

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