New York State pension fund to stop investments in fossil fuels?

New York divests graphic
© Andrew Cuomo

And New York City is exploring similar moves too.

When Bill McKibben says "pinch me," those of us who care about climate change would do well to take note. And that's exactly what happened on Tuesday:

A later clarification from the state comptroller did suggest that there are no immediate plans to divest, but rather the state is convening a panel to explore how the pension fund can best encourage climate action. Still, McKibben's enthusiasm would soon notch even higher, when New York City's comptroller announced that the city will also explore a roadmap to decarbonization, including looking at "the feasibility of ceasing additional investments in fossil fuels, divesting current holdings in fossil fuel companies, and increasing investments in clean energy."

True, neither announcement suggests overnight divestment, or even necessarily an immediate and complete halt to new investment, but they do send a clear and very loud signal to the markets that institutions are taking the carbon bubble seriously. Coming just after the UK eased fiduciary rules to allow pensions to consider environmental impact, and new research suggested that big divestment announcements directly impact share price—and hence access to capital and ability to expand—I think we can expect these moves to snowball into even broader, deeper initiatives to move money where it matters.

But don't take my word for it. Bill McKibben—who knows a thing or two about enacting change—continues to be very freaking excited:

Onwards, my friends. And thank you, New York!

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