New York just blew a $390 billion-shaped hole in the fossil fuel industry.
New York City, and the rest of the state, will freeze all fossil fuel investments, divest nearly $400 billion in public pension funds from fossil fuel companies, and invest in renewable energy.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released separate proposals on Tuesday announcing the decision. Neither proposal offered a firm end date for 100 percent divestment from fossil fuels.
“Adopting this approach will send a strong message to the financial markets that major investors, including New York State, are fully and aggressively committed to a carbon-free, clean energy future,” Cuomo said in a press release.
Years of community campaigning by environmental and social justice groups — as well as recent divestment commitments from iconic NY institutions like the American Museum of Natural History and Columbia University — put pressure on New York’s elected officials to cut ties with dirty energy.
The increasing likelihood of damaging storms like Hurricane Sandy also nudged city officials toward divestment. When Sandy struck five years ago, it killed 147 people and caused $70 billion in property damage. A recent Rutgers University study predicted that New York City could face historic flooding every five years.