New Yorkers urge De Blasio & Stringer to #DeFundDAPL, divest from risky fossil fuels
30 organizations call on De Blasio to cut banks backing DAPL as 100+ rally at Stringer’s office urging divestment
Video livestream: https://www.facebook.com/joshfoxintlwow/videos/10208506537116665/
New York, NY — New Yorkers are coming together urging City officials to cut ties with the banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline and divest the City’s five pension funds from fossil fuels. This morning, 30 groups representing Indigenous rights, climate justice, community organizations, and more sent a letter to Mayor Bill De Blasio urging him to #DeFundDAPL.
Hours later, over 100 New Yorkers rallied at Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office, delivering a divestment valentine with thousands of petition signatures urging the City’s pension funds to divest coal, oil and gas holdings. Speakers included filmmaker activist Josh Fox, 10-year-old Ajani Stella, as well as individuals directly impacted by Superstorm Sandy and its aftermath.
“On this Valentine’s Day, we’re sending a clear message: we love New York, but we don’t love it’s ties to fossil fuels that threaten our climate and communities,” said Betámia Coronel, 350.org US Reinvestment Coordinator and a native New Yorker. “New York has the potential to be a true beacon of safety and sanctuary, yet it continues to invest billions in fossil fuel companies perpetuating the climate crisis and in banks financing the dangerous Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s time for De Blasio and Stringer to put our money where their mouths are.”
Last Friday, Mayor De Blasio expressed public support for a Seattle-like divestment of the City’s pension funds, cutting ties with the banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo, a major financier of the Dakota Access pipeline, as more than 40 #NoDAPL actions were held across the country.
Despite Indigenous-led global resistance, President Donald Trump used his executive power to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline, demonstrating the administration will prioritize Big Oil profits at the expense of people and clean water.
“Trump and his wrecking crew will do anything to pump up fossil fuel corporate profits and executive pay, including destroying indigenous people’s rights by building the Dakota Access oil pipeline,” said Rachel Rivera, a Sandy survivor and member of New York Communities for Change. “Our city can’t afford more extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy. On Valentine’s Day we call on the city funds, led by Comptroller Stringer and Mayor De Blasio, to divest from fossil fuels and the banks like Wells Fargo financing the Dakota Access pipeline.”
After reluctance and significant back-and-forth with Stringer’s office, 10 year-old Ajani Stella hand-delivered more than 160 pages of petition signatures, urging the Comptroller to protect New Yorkers and drop fossil fuel investments from the City’s more than $170 billion portfolio. Earlier this month, Comptroller Stringer announced the City will begin a long-awaited climate risk assessment of its investments.
The initial campaign for New York to cut ties with fossil fuels launched on the heels of Superstorm Sandy in 2012. In recent months, a the campaign to #DivestNY has ramped up with a broad spectrum of New York society joining the call. Major funds around the world, such as the Bank of England, have done thorough research around stranded assets and carbon risk to conclude that divestment is the way forward.
“Comptroller Stringer’s study needs to tell the City’s pension fund trustees and its taxpayers how the City will manage a fossil free portfolio. The study needs to show the public the options. It is then up to the elected leaders of the City to take steps to protect the public interest from the poor financial performance of fossil fuel companies and their collective mishandling of risks created by climate change,” said Tom Sanzillo, Director of Finance at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, and former Deputy Comptroller of New York State. “We look forward to meeting with the Comptroller and the consultants responsible for the report to discuss the future of the CIty’s pension funds”
To date, more than 600 institutions across 76 countries representing over $5 trillion in assets have committed to some level of divestment, doubling in size in just one year. Notable motions in New York to cut ties with fossil fuels include Amalgamated Bank, Cooperstown, NY, the New School, and the American Museum of Natural History.
A recent report showed humans are causing the climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces. New Yorkers know who is responsible: Big Oil and its political allies knowingly perpetuating climate change. #DivestNY will ramp up pressure on Stringer and New York officials in the weeks to come, including mobilizing for the People’s Climate March on April 29, 2017.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
To view the full text and list of signatories of the #DeFundDAPL letter, visit:
Dee Aherne of 350NYC, said:
“Divestment is a tangible and powerful action to protect NYC pension holders, and a clear statement to the global community that New York knows climate change is a serious and imminent threat. Now, more than ever, New York City must take bold steps to combat climate change.
Sean Petty of New York State Nurses Association, said:
“It’s ironic that our pensions, which help guarantee that we have a stable economic future, are being used to destroy that same future by investing in fossil fuels. We need to join the city of Seattle, which chose to cancel its $3 billion dollar relationship to Wells Fargo because it is investing in building the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Fossil fuels companies are the like tobacco companies, turning profit from poisoning and killing people. The main difference is the tobacco companies knowingly and systematically allowed millions of people to die, whereas the fossil fuel companies are knowingly and systematically allowing an entire planet to die. They need to be dismantled.”
Olivia Rich of NYU Divest, said:
“Our generation has the most to lose from unabated climate change. Our current presidential administration has made the fossil fuel industry’s influence on policymaking clearer than ever. As young people, we will resist harder than ever, because we are not about to let people who actively benefit from the destruction of our planet rob us of our future.”
Sonia Ingram, Financial Analyst and founding member of the Beloved Earth Community of Riverside Church, said:
“We must defund the destruction of the planet. The water protectors on the front lines at Standing Rock and beyond are struggling to protect what every living being needs: fresh water. Our main oxygen systems on spaceship earth are collapsing. What will you do? It is up to you.”