In the lead up to the next legislative session, the DivestNY coalition, the state-wide multiracial, multigenerational movement of organizations pushing to divest $225 billion New York’s Common Retirement Fund (Fund) from fossil fuels, welcomed new coalition members this month including: CODEPINK, NYCD16 Indivisible, Westchester for Change, The Climate Reality Project: Capital Region, NY Chapter, Jewish Climate Action Network NYC, Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy (SHARE), Indivisible Mohawk Valley, Mothers Out Front Dutchess County, Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance and WESPAC. These ten groups see fossil fuel divestment and investing in just and equitable solutions as a key form of climate action.
“Indivisible Mohawk Valley (IMV) stands with DivestNY as it works to divest New York’s pension funds from investments in fossil fuels. It’s one important way that IMV can join with other New Yorkers to take action in the fight against the growing climate crisis” – Mona Perrotti, Co-Chair, Climate Crisis Working Group, Indivisible Mohawk Valley
The coalition is urging Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to exercise his fiduciary responsibility and reduce the pension fund’s risk from oil and gas companies by divesting completely from fossil fuel stocks. Earlier this year, Comptroller DiNapoli took a positive step by completing the review and divestment of 22 thermal coal companies from the fund’s portfolio. These coal companies were underperforming other assets and major greenhouse gas contributors. The Fund remains exposed to risky tar sands, fracking, oil services and pipeline companies and has hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the notorious Exxon.
In October, Bloomberg revealed that Exxon has plans to increase carbon emissions in coming years, but was planning on withholding this information from shareholders. The company recently announced the layoff of over 14,000 workers as it struggles with a mounting debtload, high priced expansion projects and shrinking market. The company’s stock has dropped by more than 47% in the past year and it was dumped from the Dow Jones in August after 92 years. The company once had a market capitalization of over $500 billion. It is now less than $150 billion.
“Westchester for Change strongly supports the work of the DivestNY coalition because divestment is a key step for New York to take to demonstrate its commitment to addressing the climate crisis. Fossil fuel investments are a bad deal for pension holders, taxpayers and for the planet. Current and future retirees will benefit from divestment and it should happen now!” – Susan Van Dolsen and Diane Torstrup, Co-Organizers, Westchester for Change
The coalition is also supporting the advancement of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act (S2126/A1536) which has gained dozens of news sponsors in the past year as the financials of the fossil fuel sector have worsened. The bills currently have 100 sponsors with 31 in the Senate and 69 in the Assembly. A number of incoming legislators have already indicated support for the bills. The bill would direct the state comptroller to divest the Fund from fossil fuels within 5 years. It is the most advanced state divestment legislation in the country.
In September, 1100+ Academics sent a letter to Comptroller DiNapoli urging him to divest from fossil fuels. Globally, over 1200 institutions representing more than $14 trillion in assets have committed to some level of fossil fuel divestment.
“CODEPINK supports the urgent work of the DivestNY coalition because divesting from fossil fuels and investing in sustainable sectors of the economy is necessary to ensure profitable long term returns on investment for current and future retirees, taxpayers and to ensure quality of life in our communities. We must divest from these companies because they threaten the future of our planet and the safety and well-being of everyone on it. Now more than ever, we simply cannot afford to wait to divest!” – Yousef Zakaria, Coordinator/Divest From the War Machine Campaigner, CODEPINK
“Fossil fuels have been on a downward trajectory for a long time. The public is aware of the central role they play in destroying the earth’s climate, and clearly divestment from this industry is long overdue. NYCD16 Indivisible is glad to be working with Divest NY to achieve this important goal.” – Natalie Polvere, Co-Chair, Environment Committee, NYCD16 Indivisible
“The Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy (SHARE) is happy to join Divest NY. Sheridan Hollow is an environmental Justice community that has suffered over 100 years of pollution from powerplants that provide heat and cooling to the NYS Capitol and other government buildings in Albany. We recently won our fight to stop a new proposed powerplant just blocks from my home. We will continue to fight for a 100% renewable Capitol and renewables for Sheridan Hollow. The climate crisis is an existential threat to us all. We must all work together for our renewable energy future.” – Merton Simpson, Albany County legislator and Co-Chair of SHARE
“Mothers Out Front Dutchess County is proud to join the DivestNY coalition. We endorse the divestment movement as a powerful strategy to wean us off of fossil fuels, move toward a carbon-free economy, secure pension funds and help build a sustainable future with well-paying 21st century jobs in the clean energy sector.” – Sandi Stratton-Gonzalez, Mothers Out Front Dutchess County
“Jewish Climate Action Network NYC is a group of New York City based Jews raising our collective voice for climate action and asking how we can live more sustainable lives, personally and within our communities. Nothing is more urgent, for ourselves, our children and the future of our planet than freeing us from our reliance on fossil fuels. We believe that divesting from fossil fuel companies is vital to achieving that goal.” – Lori Robinson, Jewish Climate Action Network NYC
“The WESPAC Community urges New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to follow the example of New York City and divest the state’s public pension funds from fossil fuels. Our times demand strong action to move us towards a more stable, safe and sustainable future!” – Nada Khader, Director, WESPAC
“The Climate Reality Project: Capital Region, NY Chapter supports the important work of Divest NY as they advocate for divestment of fossil fuel holdings in the state’s pension fund. Fossil fuel divestment is an important tool to use in the transition to a clean energy future that mitigates the worst effects of the climate crisis. Divestment would also protect the fund from the mounting losses in the fossil fuel sector that are occurring as the world replaces polluting fossil fuel-fired power plants with clean, renewable sources of energy.” – Laura Faulk, Chair, The Climate Reality Project: Capital Region, NY Chapter
“Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance is honored to join the DivestNY coalition. Our Environment Team acts to ensure we have a livable climate and believes that we need to end our reliance on fossil fuels and move our communities to 100% renewable energy.” – Caroline Fenner, DCPAA Connecting Circle Rep, Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance