New York Mayor Wants Pension Funds to Divest from Coal Companies

October 7, 2015


In a move that he said was intended to demonstrate his commitment to tackling climate change, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the city's five pension funds to divest from coal companies. De Blasio said divestment from coal is intended to position New York as a global leader in the fight against climate change. Environmental activists support the move to divest from coal, saying the change will help to protect the environment.


The mayor's proposal will be presented to the five pension boards in the next several months so that they can examine the impact of the move and decide how to reallocate the assets. The pension funds included in the mayor's proposal cover New York City employees, teachers, police officers, fire fighters, and the Board of Education. The funds have a total of $160 billion in assets, with $33 million invested in coal.


The mayor's Office of Pensions and Investments conducted an analysis and found little risk to pension fund returns as a result of the divestment from coal. De Blasio also proposed that the pension funds create long-term investment strategies related to all fossil fuel investments as the city continues to move toward renewable sources of energy.


The mayor has set the ambitious goal of reducing New York's greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and having the cleanest air of any major U.S. city by 2030.


Other lawmakers around the world are also pushing to divest from coal. The Norwegian Parliament endorsed the sale of coal investments from its $900 billion sovereign wealth fund in June. Lawmakers in California passed a bill on September 2 that requires the two largest pension plans in the state to divest any thermal coal holdings within 18 months.