On Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the New York City pension fund was divesting itself of $4 billion worth of gas and oil stocks and filed a federal lawsuit against the five biggest publicly-traded oil companies in the world for damages sustained by their city and their residents caused by Hurricane Sandy which were in turn proximately caused by the actions of the oil and gas corporations in causing climate change.
The lawsuit links global warming to extreme temperatures, severe snowfall, risen sea levels, and more flooding across the state. The city is seeking an undisclosed amount, reported to be in the billions of dollars, for protection from the consequences of climate change. The motion also requests an amicus brief on the claims filed by New York City against the oil companies, as well as claims that local municipalities have filed against oil companies.
NY filed its lawsuit against BP, Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo previously has said he planned to halt future fossil fuel investments in the state's public employee pension fund. "Government pension managers have a responsibility by law to seek the greatest return for their investors and pensions that invest in oil and natural gas companies have historically delivered a higher return than other investments".
Climate change is real. It is unfortunate that the people who will need the pension monies will be deprived of potential wealth because of political posturing.
He also says the city will divest the US$5bn that its pension funds now hold in fossil fuel companies. In September, de Blasio's rollout of a new set of mandates to cut emissions from big buildings from the New York City Council, which accused the mayor of acting unilaterally and failing to go far enough with the proposed rules. Campaigners used the second anniversary of the Paris agreement to call for more effort to encourage divestment from fossil fuels. NY state had previously subpoenaed (request for evidence by court order) documents from Exxon, in 2016, in a bid to uncover whether the oil company misled investors over the risks of climate change.
But it's not just NY taking on the oil industry.
Part of New York City's vulnerability is that it is surrounded by water.
"Today, the mightiest city on our planet takes on its most powerful industry - its richest, most powerful and most irresponsible industry", said Bill McKibben, the co-founder of 350.org. "Science and economics and morality are on the side of this city, and so it will eventually win".