New York announced plans Wednesday to divest billions of dollars in oil and gas investments from the city’s pension fund and seek billions in damages from oil companies to protect residents from the effects of climate change.
The city’s $189 billion pension fund, held for employees including police officers, teachers and fire fighters, currently has around $5 billion in securities of more than 190 fossil fuel companies, officials said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that staff will instruct fund trustees to start analyzing ways to divest responsibly from fossil fuel over the next five years.
“New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major US city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
With 8.5 million residents, New York is America’s most populous city, and also serves as its financial and entertainment capital.
New York has also filed a lawsuit seeking damages from BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell to help compensate its $20 billion plan to protect the city, economy and public services from the effects of climate change.
“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,” said de Blasio.
Cities in California have filed similar lawsuits. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also unveiled plans last month to divest state pension funds from fossil fuel investments.
A study published by researchers last October warned that rising sea levels from man-made climate change could prompt catastrophic flooding in New York as frequently as once every five years by 2030 to 2045.
Hurricane Sandy paralyzed the US financial capital in 2012, unleashing nine-foot (three-meter) floods across coastal New York and New Jersey, and causing an estimated $71 billion in damage.