January 26, 2021 Read More →

Two New York City pension funds to divest fossil fuel holdings

Pensions and Investments:

Two of the five pension funds in the New York City Retirement Systems will divest an estimated $4 billion in securities related to fossil fuel companies, city officials said Monday.

Boards of the $77.4 billion New York City Employees’ Retirement System and the $91.4 billion New York City Teachers’ Retirement System voted Monday to approve divestment. They represent the largest pension funds within the $239.8 billion system.

A third pension fund, the $7.8 billion New York City Board of Education Retirement System, is expected to vote soon for divestment.

In early 2018, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Mayor Bill de Blasio committed the pension system to divesting fossil fuels that they defined as coal, oil and gas used for energy, and began assessing the portfolio’s exposure to fossil fuel stranded asset risk, industry decline and other financial risks stemming from climate change.

In September 2018, they set a goal of doubling investments in climate solutions to 2%. The city is on track to meet that goal, with roughly $4 billion invested in renewable energy, climate infrastructure, green real estate and other investments keyed to the goals of the Paris Agreement, officials said.

Divestment will be handled over a five-year period to achieve best execution, after which the holdings and companies will be announced. Mr. Stringer is the fiduciary of the five pension funds within the pension system. “Since we announced our first-in-the-nation divestment goal, the urgent environmental and financial risks of climate change have only grown more clear. New York City is leading the way forward because we know the future is on the side of clean energy — not big polluters,” Mr. Stringer said in a statement. He described the divestment process as “fiscally prudent and environmentally responsible,” and called climate change “the fight of our lives.”

[Hazel Bradford]

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