New York State Pension Fund Divests From Fossil Fuels

The announcement this week that the state of New York's employee pension fund would divest from fossil fuel industries sent shockwaves through the industry and the environmentalism movement this week.

December 10, 2020, 9:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Power Plant

fotorince / Shutterstock

Bill McKibben, founder of the climate advocacy group 350.org, shares news and insights about a historic decision by the state of New York's employee pension fund would divest $12 billion from gas and oil companies, "if they can’t come up with a legitimate business plan within four years that is aligned with the goals of the Paris climate accord."

"The entire portfolio will be decarbonized over the next two decades," according to McKibben. The total value of the employee pension fund for the state of New York totals $226 billion.

Here's how McKibben summarizes the significance of the news:

It’s a huge win, obviously, for the activists who have fought for eight years to get Albany to divest from fossil fuel companies and for the global divestment campaign. Endowments and portfolios worth more than than $14 trillion have joined the fight. This new move is the largest by a pension fund in the United States, edging the New York City pension funds under Comptroller Scott Stringer, who announced in 2018 that the fund would seek to divest $5 billion in fossil fuel investments from its nearly $200 billion pension fund over five years.

The news also suggests to McKibben that the "once-dominant fossil fuel industry has reached a low in financial and political power." To make the case, McKibben lists a series of capitulations that show the waning influence of the fossil fuel industry, and gives credit to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who announced the divestment this week, for standing up to the industry.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020 in The New York Times

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