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January 2021

NY State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli Makes Historic Climate Announcement

On December 9, New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced that the $226 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) is moving to divest from the riskiest oil and gas companies by 2025 and decarbonize by 2040.

 

New York’s announcement is the biggest leap forward worldwide on climate finance action in 2020, an otherwise bleak year for the planet. It creates the most comprehensive program of any large public fund worldwide to divest from fossil fuels, decarbonize across a massive portfolio, and put major financial pressure on public companies -- from auto companies to utilities -- to align their operations with the scale of climate action needed to stave off worldwide catastrophe, said the #DivestNY coalition.

 

The victory comes eight years after New Yorkers launched the #DivestNY campaign, days ahead of the December 12 fifth anniversary of the Paris climate accord signing, and sets the bar for climate finance action ahead of COP26 next year in Scotland.

 

Comptroller DiNapoli is taking a ground-breaking, systematic approach to reviewing and assessing each fossil fuel company sub-sector, with a process grounded in fiduciary responsibility. The results of the first review, targeting the coal sub-sector and completed earlier this year, resulted in divestment from 22 coal companies. Similar divestment action is anticipated from the current tar sands review, which is set to conclude on January 2021.  After the tar sands review, the Comptroller will review fracking companies, Oil majors, fossil fuel service companies, and oil and gas transportation and pipelines. All reviews and divestment actions will be completed by 2025.

 

Just like New York City’s 2018 announcement of a five-year plan to divest its massive pension funds from fossil fuels, the announcement by Comptroller DiNapoli will reverberate globally, boosting divestment and climate finance campaigns across the nation and around the world, added #DivestNY. The commitment to decarbonize the Fund by 2040 is ten years sooner than any other US pension fund. This plan also includes interim trajectory goals, rigorous reporting, staff hiring, and transparency.

 

NYS-CRF historically has held over $12 billion in fossil fuels, including more than $1 billion invested in ExxonMobil alone. Divestment will ensure that the NYS fund will end such financing.

 

The #DivestNY coalition, composed of 40+ groups, won this campaign through focused and diligent campaigning over many years. The campaign demand launched after Superstorm Sandy devastated the Northeast in 2012, costing nearly $70 billion in damages.

 

In the face of COVID-19, the coalition shifted into virtual campaigning and video conference advocacy and lobbying, escalating momentum toward this victory. In September, 1100+ Academics sent a letter to Comptroller DiNapoli urging him to divest from fossil fuels. To date, over 1300 institutions representing more than $14 trillion in assets have committed to some level of fossil fuel divestment.

 

"Jewish Climate Action Network NYC thanks Comptroller DiNapoli for taking a leadership role and helping to, once again, propel New York State into a leadership role in fighting climate change. His announcement to divest the state’s pension fund from fossil fuel companies and suppliers will be far reaching in achieving an economy and a just society based upon renewables.  We are honored to be part of the DivestNY coalition and applaud the efforts of all who worked tirelessly to achieve this milestone announcement,” said Lori Robinson, Jewish Climate Action Network NYC

"Westchester for Change and Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE) are heartened by the announcement that Comptroller DiNapoli will initiate a process to begin divestment of the $226 billion Common Retirement Fund from fossil fuels. We celebrate the tremendous work by fellow climate activists in the DivestNY coalition and throughout the state who have consistently upheld the belief that divestment is a powerful tool in addressing climate change. This action will reverberate across the nation and throughout the world." - Susan Van Dolsen, Co-Founder, SAPE & Co-Organizer, Westchester for Change and Diane Torstrup, Co-Organizer, Westchester for Change

 

More information can be found at divestny.org