New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announces that the city will divest from fossil fuels and has filed a lawsuit against five major fossil fuel companies, including BP and Royal Dutch Shell, for climate damages
The city of New York plans to divest $5bn (£3.7bn) from fossil fuels and sue some of the world’s most powerful oil companies for their contribution towards climate change.
Officials in the city have set a goal of divesting New York’s $189bn (£140bn) pension funds from fossil fuel companies within five years. They say it would be “among the most significant divestment efforts in the world to date”. New York’s announcement brings the total number of global divestment commitments to 810 institutions representing more than $6tn (£4.5tn) in assets.
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Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has filed a lawsuit against five major fossil fuel companies – ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell and ConocoPhillips – for climate damages. New York seeks damages for the impacts of climate change on the city that have reportedly already amounted to billions of dollars, and the billions necessary to prepare for rising sea levels, more powerful storms and warmer temperatures.
In 2012 Superstorm Sandy became the second-costliest storm to date at more than $65bn (£48.2bn) in damages.
We’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits
“New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major city in the US to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels,” said mayor de Blasio. “At the same time, we’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits. As climate change continues to worsen, it’s up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient.”
“New York City today becomes a capital of the fight against climate change on this planet. With its communities exceptionally vulnerable to a rising sea, the city is showing the spirit for which it’s famous: it’s not pretending that working with the fossil fuel companies will somehow save the day, but instead standing up to them, in the financial markets and in court,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, a global movement that aims to inspire the world to tackle the climate crisis.
The message of today’s historic announcement is unmistakable: investing in fossil fuel companies is a high-risk, bad bet
Naomi Klein, author and activist, said: “Emanating from the financial capital of the world, the message of today’s historic announcement is unmistakable: investing in fossil fuel companies is a high-risk, bad bet. New York City is now leading cities and states to not only divest from fossil fuel companies but also insist that the corporations that profit from destabilising our shared planet pay for the mess they knowingly created.
“As of today, the entire fossil fuel sector finds itself under a cloud of huge potential court-imposed costs, as well as the growing global momentum of investor flight. That means no matter how many oil and coal leases the Trump administration hands out, the economics of new drilling will make less and less sense. This is very good news.”