May 18, 2017

New Yorkers intensify urgency to #DivestNY from oil, gas and coal

After historic Peoples Climate March, “Global Divestment Mobilization” calls for New York to stop funding climate destruction

NEW YORK — In coordination with the Global Divestment Mobilization of over 280 events across 46 countries on six continents, New Yorkers intensified the call for City and State Comptrollers Scott Stringer and Tom DiNapoli to divest New York’s $350 billion pension funds from fossil fuels and reinvest in a 100% clean energy economy that works for all of us.

Weeks after hundreds of thousands of people, including over 150 buses from New York, mobilized for climate, jobs and justice at the Peoples Climate March, New Yorkers are harnessing momentum back to their communities to fill the gap of climate leadership and build lasting local solutions.

Events in New York kicked-off with a lobby day in Albany, where bill sponsors and dozens of people called on the State Legislature to divest the pension funds. The next day, 150 New Yorkers took over the public space at Trump Tower to shine a spotlight on the fossil fuel-takeover of the executive branch, and urge NYC Comptroller Stringer to choose a side: that of the communities he represents, or that of Trump and his fossil fuel billionaires. A business panel at Fordham University the following day featured representatives from Amalgamated Bank, the American Sustainable Business Council, and more, highlighting the financial case for divestment and reinvestment into clean energy.

The mobilization culminated with a large and caucus town-hall style event, where a diverse set of groups and unions brought together over 600 community members to hold city-wide elected officials accountable. The forum was attended by Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer (Mayor Bill de Blasio chose not to participate). Participants urged Stringer and James to take bold climate action through divestment from fossil fuels, and reinvestment into fair, local union jobs in clean energy and building energy efficiency. Comptroller Stringer did not agree to divest the city’s pension funds, which got a spirited response from the crowd.

Global commitments to divest have already reached over 730 institutions across 76 countries, representing well over $5.2 trillion in assets. Notable New York area commitments to cut ties with fossil fuels include the historic Riverside Church, Amalgamated Bank, Columbia University, Barnard College, Cooperstown, NY, the American Museum of Natural History, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and more.

This mobilization comes as the fossil fuel industry makes its last stand and power grab. Despite revelations that oil companies like Exxon knew about climate change half a century ago, the industry continues to pour resources into sowing doubt and delay climate action.

At a time when governments are failing their people, when Donald Trump is threatening to leave the Paris Agreement, and climate impacts globally are taking us into uncharted territory — through floods, fires, heatwaves, storms and drought — divestment is activating the public and undermining the power of the fossil fuel industry politically and financially.

Now, New Yorkers and communities across the country are focusing on the local level to divest from fossil fuels, stop new fossil fuel infrastructure, fight for commitments for 100% clean energy, and pressure elected officials to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and with the people. Local divestment campaigns model what governments need to be doing: withdrawing funds from the problem and investing in solutions.  

Betamia Coronel, 350.org US Reinvestment Coordinator, and native New Yorker said:  

“New Yorkers aren’t waiting for politicians to take bold action on climate. Even in the face of the dark cloud of intensifying climate impacts and the Trump administration rolling back civil liberties, the Global Divestment Mobilization shows the resolve of our communities to transition away from fossil fuels toward a 100% clean energy economy that works for all of us. Together, we stand alongside those bearing the brunt of the impacts of climate change. This is just the beginning of New Yorkers seizing our political power to push officials to stand with our communities over Trump and his fossil fuel billionaires.”

Denise Patel, Coordinator, Divest-Invest Network, said: 

“From students on college campuses around the world to the citizens of New York, the message of the DivestInvest movement is clear – we will no longer be denied a climate safe future; we will push back against the fossil fuel industry and resist its attempts to buy our democracy; and we will continue to call on those in power to stand with us. The grassroots DivestInvest movement has blossomed from a moral call to action into a mainstream financial movement that is capable of moving entire economies. That’s why we not only call for divestment, but also call for investment – to build our communities to be just, equitable and resilient, to create jobs, and to save the planet.”

Rachel Rivera, who lost her home in Sandy and is a member of New York Communities for Change (NYCC), said:  

“I lost my home in Sandy. Low-income communities of color already take the brunt of the damage from climate change. With Trump taking us backwards at the federal level, State and City Comptrollers DiNapoli and Stringer need to stop pouring public funds into climate destruction and instead invest in good, local, union jobs and clean energy.”            

Mark Dunlea with 350NYS and PAUSE (People of Albany United for Safe Energy), said: 

“Virtually every new study finds that the timeline for catastrophic climate change is coming sooner than expected. We have to take action now to halt the use of fossil fuels. We need our elected officials, starting with Scott Stringer and Tom DiNapoli who oversee our public pension funds, to say it is time to stop investing in fossil fuel companies that are driving global warming.”

           

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Contact: Lindsay Meiman, [email protected], (347) 460-9082

For more information on the campaign to #DivestNY, visit: divestny.org

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