City dumping investments in fossil fuels, suing 5 big oil companies

City dumping investments in fossil fuels, suing 5 big oil companies

New York City on Wednesday filed a multibillion dollar lawsuit against five top fossil fuel companies, citing their "contributions to global warming", as it unveiled a plan to cut fossil fuel investments from its $189 billion public pension funds over the next five years.

The city filed the suit against oil companies BP PLC, Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC.

Beyond the climate lawsuit, New York City also announced a goal of divesting the city's pension funds from all fossil fuel reserve owners within five years; the city's five pension funds now contain some $5 billion in fossil fuel investments. The City's move is among the most significant divestment efforts in the world to date.

"The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is proud to stand alongside Mayor de Blasio and Comptroller Stringer in their historic commitment to divest the NYC pension funds from fossil fuels", Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund said in a statement. "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 NY safer and more resilient".

Ready to get started? NY state has already announced it is exploring how to divest from fossil fuels.

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. Each lawsuit argues that major fossil fuel companies not only had an outsized impact on the production and emission of climate-changing greenhouse gases, but knowingly obscured climate science that might have prompted far-reaching reductions in the use of fossil fuels and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.

The city is already executing resiliency program estimated at more than $20 billion to protect New Yorkers and build resilience against rising seas, more powerful storms and hotter temperatures.

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NY was badly rattled by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and faces costs escalating into the tens of billions of dollars in order to protect low-lying areas such as lower Manhattan and the area around JFK airport from being inundated by further severe storms fueled by rising sea levels and atmospheric warming.

The announcement called climate change "the toughest challenge New York City will face in the coming decades" and made note of the effects Hurricane Sandy as an example of the "destructive weather events exacerbated" by climate change.

With 8.5 million residents, NY is America's most populous city, and also serves as its financial and entertainment capital.

Vondrich said other cities and entities divesting of fossil fuel interests have included Washington, D.C., Berlin and Cape Town; insurance companies Swiss Re, Axa and Allianz; and educational institutions such as the University of Oxford in Great Britain, Stanford University in California and Trinity College in Ireland.

NY said it's "exceptionally vulnerable" to rising sea levels.

Christiana Figueres, former United Nations climate chief and architect of the Paris climate agreement, added: "The exponential transition toward a fossil-fuel-free economy is unstoppable and local governments have a critical role to play".

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.

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