Mayor Bill de Blasio along with trustees of three of the city’s pension funds announced a commitment Thursday to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions in their investment portfolios by 2040.
The goal is to double investments in climate change solutions like renewable energy and green real estate to over $8 billion by 2025 and reach over $37 billion in climate solution investments by 2035 across the three funds. In total, the mayor hopes to achieve $50 billion in total pension fund investments in climate solutions by 2035.
Both the mayor and City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer created the proposal, which they said would ensure that New York leads the way by establishing a net-zero emissions goal within its public pension funds.
“I want to thank the trustees that have always believed the future of our city is making sure we have a clean and safe environment,” Stringer said. “We don’t have 30 years anymore, the timeline is 8 years at best. On behalf of my children, this is a very exciting day for me personally as we move the needle.”
In January, the trustees voted to divest approximately $4 billion in securities of fossil fuel reserve owners. This divestment is expected to be completed within five years.
“The last thing you want to do is invest in industries that are going to have to leave their assets in the ground — that’s the fossil fuel industry,” de Blasio said. “They are the past. The future is renewables and that’s where we are focused. We are running out of time, we have to do everything and anything.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said the divestment is even more important in light of the devastation wrought across Queens and the city in September from the torrential, flooding rains of Hurricane Ida’s remnants.
“Queens knows more than most the dramatic and devastating impacts of climate change, especially our families who are still picking up the pieces and grieving loved ones in the wake of Hurricane Ida’s historic flooding,” Richards said. “The actions we take as a society today will define what our city looks like tomorrow and for generations to come, and we support today’s ambitious commitment to a net zero emissions goal in our public pension funds.”
Bronx/Queens Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aloo lauded the city’s latest commitment to combating climate change.
“Today’s announcement really shows that a lot of the climate action is not happening in Washington, it’s happening in New York City and at state and local levels across the country,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The participating trustees of New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS), Teachers Retirement System (TRS) and Board of Education Retirement System (BERS) will be making these investments in renewable energy.
Ocasio-Cortez said it’s important that teachers and city workers feel confident that their public pensions are not contributing to the climate crisis.
“I want us to celebrate this decision. It is a major structural change in our energy investment,” she remarked. “We should challenge other cities, states and countries to do the same because using our public investment to divest from the fossil fuel industry is going to be one of the critical tipping points in making sure that we have the structural investments necessary to transition to renewable and clean energy.”