January 15, 2018

When Cities Say No to Fossil Fuel Investment

Imagine if a city like New York City decided to get rid of  five billion US dollars of fossil fuel related stocks in their $189 billion dollar pension fund that pays to retired city workers and school teachers.   That’s exactly what they are doing over the next five years as well as suing those oil and gas companies for complicit involvement in global warming.
As reported in the The Guardian New York’s divestment may persuade other cities to divest in fossil fuels and “build momentum in the global shift required to reduce emissions and stave off the worst consequences of climate change.”
“This is a really big deal,” said Jeffrey Sachs, an economist at New York’s Columbia University and special adviser to the UN secretary-general. “Pension funds of other major US cities will follow, I think. New York is the neighborhood of the very big money managers. It’s a powerful, personal signal to them that they cannot keep funding the sorts of projects they have in the past.” Other cities including Paris, Berlin, Sydney and Stockholm are also committed to getting rid of fossil fuel stocks. In fact with groups like the Norwegian central bank, Oxford University and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund as much as 6 Trillion dollars of divestment may happen.
While right-wing groups see such a plan to divest fossil fuel stocks as not a good faith way to create change, Mayor deBlasio of New York City states he is doing this for future generations. But will this divestment and boycott be enough to impact the oil and gas companies? And how will they adjust to lowering civic demands for their products and their stocks?

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    1. Not hypocrisy. Not punishment. It’s just a decision to disinvest. Don’t worry, Thomas. New York’s investment portfolio managers are probably not coming for you next.

      1. I am talking about the lawsuit in the context of “hypocrisy” !
        Oil companies would not exist today if no one required their product. Why not blame the car driving public. Oh yes, they are voters. Just pretend the voters are all nice and innocent but the evil oil companies cause global warming, not the actual users burning the gas in their cars.
        In other news: Ottawa subsidizes airplane manufacturers or car companies but makes oil extraction more expensive or shipment thereof difficult.
        Same hypocrisy.
        The fossil fuel disinvestment is a (vote buying) mis-informed charade http://business.financialpost.com/opinion/the-green-fossil-fuel-divestment-crusade-hurts-the-poor-and-middle-class-most

        1. The lawsuit is not about who burned the fossil fuels but rather the cover-up of info about climate change.
          “The case will also point to evidence that firms such as Exxon knew of the impact of climate change for decades, only to downplay and even deny this in public. ”
          We see that in the presence of accurate information, people are likely to change their behaviours. One can speculate as to how the situation would be much different if we had decades of time to transition more gradually away from oil, armed with the facts about its impact on our climate. But no doubt the lawsuit is a foolish, bad idea. I can’t imagine NYC could afford any kind of decent lawyers on this file. Better they just take the advice of random Internet commenters boasting track records of bad information and faulty conclusions.

      2. Thomas, the lawsuits (and there are many more than just New York) aren’t for producing fossil fuels. You are missing the point. The NYC lawsuit claims that the defendants deliberately engaged in a campaign of deception and denial about global warming and the impacts of climate change. Refer to the studies that show that oil company ExxonMobil sowed doubt about human-caused climate change, while its own scientific papers and internal documents acknowledged the problem. The campaigns fossil fuel companies are alleged to have funded were to create doubt, and thus contribute to a delay in society taking action. Parallels exist with tobacco company campaigns of past decades.
        The evidence that the public bought into this disinformation campaign is widespread. Your repeated posts casting doubt on climate change are part of it. You are helping NYC every time you post such claims. So, thanks for that.

    2. Why don’t they sue the drivers of vehicles too?
      Like drivers had a choice for 3/4 of a century to switch to something else, especially with cities built around the car.

  2. Let’s place the NYC lawsuit in the context of Hurricane Sandy and the anti reality policies of the terribly toxic Trump and his administration of sycophants and hanger on apologists. NYC is doing the right thing by placing the issue of climate change and it’s causes in the public spotlight.

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