New York City to divest $5bn pension funds from fossil fuel companies

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Heck Yeah! NYC Divested Billions From Fossil Fuel Companies and Is Suing for Damages Caused By Climate Change

Officials announced their goal to dump those investments along with the news that the city is filing a lawsuit against five of the largest Big Oil companies, alleging that those businesses were aware of the industry's contribution to climate change.

"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 Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

The lawsuit filed against BP, Chevron, Conoco-Philips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell posits that the combined companies produce a staggering 11 percent of all global-warming gasses, and hopes to hold these companies responsible for present and future damage caused by climate change - specifically highlighting the destruction wrought by Super Storm Sandy.

NY is now carrying out a $20 billion plan to combat the effects of climate change and protect New Yorkers from rising seas, stronger storms and more extreme temperatures. These include rising sea levels, high temperatures, high precipitation and an increased likelihood of more frequent and intense flooding.

The city's largest pension funds - New York City Employees' Retirement System and the Teachers' Retirement System - are on board to try to divest by 2022, said Daniel Zarrilli, de Blasio's senior director of climate policy and programs.

This week, ExxonMobil asked to depose 16 California state officials who sued the company over selling fuel they say is warming the planet, raising the seas and, they contend, threatening their communities - just the most recent escalation in the legal fight between the largest USA oil and gas firms and blue-state officials over climate change.

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"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue and requires global participation and actions", said Exxon Mobil's Scott Silvestri. Let's be clear: "that's where it came from", de Blasio said.

Court documents state that NY has suffered from flooding and erosion due to climate change and because of looming future threats it is seeking to "shift the costs of protecting the city from climate change impacts back on to the companies that have done almost all they could to create this existential threat". Curtis Smith, a Shell spokesman, said the courts are not the venue to address climate change.

Ahead of divesting from fossil fuels, the trustees of each pension fund will request an analysis from the controller's office on the financial risks of the investments and the legality of divestment. Last year, San Francisco and Oakland sued Big Oil on similar grounds. If the opinions support the move, they'll vote on proceeding with divestment.

"It's complex, it will take time, and there are going to be many steps", said Stringer.

Philanthropies have included the Wallace Global Fund and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, notable because the late John D. Rockefeller grew his wealth as an oil baron.

New York City is breaking up with big oil. "The mayor's announcement may raise his profile, but it will do nothing to address climate change and will ultimately fail". More than half of the greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuels has occurred since 1988.

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