Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday a new proposal to divest NYC’s pension funds from coal. This marks the most recent development in the mayor’s commitment to fighting climate change, which involves a hefty sustainability plan and targets an 80-percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2050. Along with the proposal for divestment from coal, de Blasio is also pressuring the pension fund managers to investigate options and design long-term strategies that will further support renewable energy and eschew fossil fuels, all while protecting the retirement funds of city employees.
Divestment from coal would be just the first step in pulling the city’s pension funds away from fossil fuels and ensuring that its investments are aligned with its overall sustainability goals. “New York City is a global leader when it comes to taking on climate change and reducing our environmental footprint. It’s time that our investments catch up – and divestment from coal is where we must start,” said Mayor de Blasio.
The five pension funds’ assets total over $160 billion, including at least $33 million of exposure to thermal coal in the public markets, so the foothold is currently substantial. De Blasio’s proposal will be presented to all five New York City pension boards over the coming months, so that they can learn more about the specific impacts of divestment and research other options. The mayor’s office has already conducted a preliminary study, and is suggesting that divestment will pose little risk to the retirement fund assets.
The move is part of the larger plan to make NYC a cleaner, greener place. The broader goal centers on reducing the city’s environmental footprint with a major reduction in GHG emissions, an increase in renewable energy up to 100 percent, and the goal to give the Big Apple the cleanest air of any large U.S. city by 2030. Although much of the plan involves greening the city’s infrastructure and official facilities, the mayor has also extended programs to help residents and business owners go green, in an effort to achieve even further reductions in emissions.