New York City Pension Trustees Voted to Divest Estimated $4 Billion in Fossil Fuel Securities

Posted on 01/25/2021

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, along with trustees of two of the City’s pension funds, announced these funds have voted to divest their portfolios of an estimated US$ 4 billion from securities related to fossil fuel companies. The divestment, expected to be one of the largest in the world, will address the significant financial and environmental risks that these fossil fuel holdings pose to the funds. In 2018, New York City became the first major city in the nation to commit to divesting major public pension funds from fossil fuel reserve companies. Since the initial announcement hundreds of other institutions, governments, and entities have joined this commitment.

“Fossil fuels are not only bad for our planet and our frontline communities, they are a bad investment,” said NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Our first-in-the-nation divestment is literally putting money where our mouth is when it comes to climate change. Divestment is a bold investment in our children and grandchildren, and our planet. I applaud the trustees, advocates and experts for their hard work, and I look forward to seeing more cities around the world join this call for change.”

“Climate change is the fight of our lives, and we must face it head on with everything we’ve got – for our planet, for our children, and for our retirees,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “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. I’m proud of the trustees, advocates and investment experts who worked with us to ensure a fiscally prudent and environmentally responsible divestment process and a greener future for generations to come.”

The New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS) and New York City Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) voted to approve divestments and the New York City Board of Education Retirement System (BERS) is expected to move forward on a divestment vote imminently. Securities were identified based on demonstrated risk from fossil fuel reserves and business activity, and the trustees will continue to evaluate risk in their portfolios to determine additional actions as warranted. The names of companies and the final scope of the divestment will be released following the sale of all targeted securities, which will be completed in a prudent manner to achieve best execution. The divestment is expected to be complete within the original five year timeline. The announcement by the Mayor, Comptroller, and Trustees follows an extensive and thorough fiduciary process to prudently assess the portfolio’s exposure to fossil fuel stranded asset risk and industry decline and other financial risks stemming from climate change.

Comptroller Stringer serves as the investment advisor to, and custodian and a trustee of, the New York City Pension Funds.

In addition to Comptroller Stringer, the participating New York City Pension Funds’ trustees are:

New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS): New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer; Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Representative, John Adler (Chair); New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Borough Presidents: Gale Brewer (Manhattan), Donovan Richards (Queens), Eric Adams (Brooklyn), James Oddo (Staten Island), and Ruben Diaz, Jr. (Bronx); Henry Garrido, Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME; Tony Utano, President Transport Workers Union Local 100; Gregory Floyd, President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 237.

Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS): New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer; Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Appointee, John Adler; Chancellor’s Representative, Lindsey Oates, New York City Department of Education; Natalie Green Giles; and Debra Penny (Chair), Thomas Brown and David Kazansky, all of the United Federation of Teachers.

Board of Education Retirement System (BERS): Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza; Mayoral: Larian Angelo, Isaac Carmignami, Natalie Green Giles, Vanessa Leung, Gary Linnen, Lori Podvesker, Shannon Waite, Eric C. Henry, Kathy Park Price; Thomas Sheppard (CEC); Michael Kraft (Manhattan BP), Deborah Dillingham (Queens BP), April Chapman (Brooklyn BP), Geneal Chacon (Bronx BP) and Peter Calandrella (Staten Island BP); and employee members John Maderich of the IUOE Local 891 and Donald Nesbit of District Council 37, Local 372.

Keywords: New York City Employees Retirement System.

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