June 21, 2017

New Yorkers Sound Flood Warning: NYC Comptroller Stringer Must #DivestNY From Climate Destruction

Livestream recording available here

Photo album available here

New York, NY — Escalating the call for fossil fuel divestment, 20 New Yorkers sounded a flood warning at today’s New York City pension board meeting, highlighting Comptroller Scott Stringer and other Trustees’ responsibility to protect New Yorkers and their pension funds. The five NYC pension funds currently control about $175 billion in assets, including $4 billion in fossil fuel companies.

Disrupting the meeting, activists sounded a flood warning and unfurled a banner with a clear message: “Heed The Warnings. Stop The Floods. #DivestNY From Fossil Fuels.” Dressed in matching shirts reading “New Yorkers > Fossil Fuels,” the group held a “drown-in” to enact the impacts of climate destruction if action isn’t taken. Alerted by the blaring warning, Trustees jumped in their seats, but attempted to continue the meeting at business-as-usual.

“The costs of climate change are being paid by the lives and livelihoods of New Yorkers,” said Betámia Coronel, a Queens resident born-and-raised in Brooklyn, working as 350.org’s U.S. Reinvestment Coordinator. “This very flood warning went off on millions of New Yorkers’ phones just two days ago as flash floods swept through our streets. Now, we sound this warning with a clear message to Comptroller Stringer: protect New Yorkers and our pensions — divest from fossil fuels.”

Following the Trump administration’s announcement to back the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, more than 1000 New Yorkers marched in support of the accord. New York’s elected officials, including Mayor Bill De Blasio and Comptrollers Scott Stringer and Tom DiNapoli, emphasized their commitment to move forward climate action at the city and state level.

“With Trump backing out of the Paris accord, and the fossil-fuel takeover of the federal government, lasting action will happen at the state and local level,” said Coronel. “But the promises made by New York’s officials are just lip service as long as our pensions finance the companies knowingly perpetuating climate change.”

Just two weeks ago, New York City became the first pension in the country to divest from private prisons. Organizers of this morning’s rally underscored the arguments used in that decision, noting the mirroring applicability to fossil fuel divestment. The campaign to divest New York’s pension funds from fossil fuels began in 2012, the very day Superstorm Sandy devastated communities across the City and State, impacting low-income communities and communities of color first and worst. 

Comptroller Stringer is the legally-appointed custodian and investment manager of the funds. The Comptroller hires, manages and fires investment managers, and acts as a trustee. After activists flooded today’s meeting, New Yorkers will flood Comptroller Stringer’s phone line with urgent calls to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in a sustainable economy that works for all.

“New York has often been a beacon of progressive action, but it’s current ties to fossil fuel companies like Exxon stand in the way of it being a true climate leader,” said Coronel. “It’s up to New York to take bold action on climate: the world is watching”



Photos and videos available here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/350org/albums/72157685232057366

For more on the campaign to #DivestNY, explore this media pack and visit: divestny.org

Contact: Lindsay Meiman, lindsay@350.org, +1 (347) 460-9082