New York City is going the way of California, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut by moving to divest from coal and reconsidering its investments in oil and gas.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week called on his city’s $160 billion pension fund to divest from coal. Divesting from coal posed little risk to the fund’s returns, his office said.
Earlier this month, California passed a new law that requires the state’s pension funds to sell their investments in coal companies. The state of Massachusetts has introduced a bill that goes a step further, divesting from all fossil fuel companies, including those involved in oil and gas, within five years.
The Green Party has a similar divestment bill set to be debated in Parliament in November. The Climate Change (Divestment from Fossil Fuels) Bill will, if passed, direct the managers of public funds like the Superannuation Fund and ACC Fund to divest from companies directly involved in the exploration, mining, and production of fossil fuels within five years.
The main argument to divest from fossil fuels is ethical – it’s the right thing to do if we want to live in a world with a habitable climate. However, the economics of coal has also been changing dramatically. In the USA for example, the Dow Jones coal sector index is down 76 percent in the last five years, compared to the Down Jones Industrial Average which grew 69 percent over the same period.
A deadly industry is becoming more and more financially risky; it’s time our Government woke up to it.