[Vision2020] 1-10-2018: New York City Will Divest Pension Funds & Sue Fossil Fuel Companies

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Fri Jan 12 19:38:34 PST 2018

Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
>From article below:

“The next storm is out there — it’s not a matter of if, but when,” de
Blasio said.

More intense and frequent storms will come and the sea will rise. The
question remains who will pay for the damage.

York City Will Divest Pension Funds from Fossil Fuel Companies
By Justin Mikulka <https://www.desmogblog.com/user/justin-mikulka> •
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Today New York Mayor Bill De Blasio announced a goal to divest New York
City’s pension funds from fossil fuel reserve owners within five years.
This makes New York the first major American city to announce such a move.

According to a statement, the city’s five pension funds have approximately
$5 billion invested in over 190 fossil fuel companies.

“New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first
major U.S. city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels,” said Mayor
de Blasio. “At the same time, we’re bringing the fight against climate
change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects
and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits.”

Mayor de Blasio explained how the city was “bringing the fight” when he
also announced the city will be suing the five largest investor-owned
fossil fuel companies — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal
Dutch Shell — and seeking damages for the money the city will have to spend
to protect itself against the impacts of climate change.

This is in addition to separate legal action by New York Attorney General
Eric Schneiderman to hold the industry accountable for misleading the
public about climate change. Schneiderman’s lawsuit against ExxonMobil
that there is evidence that Exxon had “two sets of numbers” used to discuss
the impact of climate change on the company — one set for the public and
one for private company conversations.

Climate activist and author Bill McKibben hailed the announcement
“They should light up the Empire State Building in green tonight — for the
money the city is going to save, and for the planet it will help protect in
the process,” he said in a New York Daily News op-ed.

“Climate change is perhaps the toughest challenge New York City will face
in the coming decades,” de Blasio said in today’s statement.
*Protecting the Island City*

With this divestment decision and lawsuit, New York City is placing itself
at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Which makes sense
because New York, a city surrounded by water, is on the frontline when it
comes to climate change impacts as well, from sea level rise to
intense storms. And for a city the size of New York, dealing with climate
change will not be cheap.

A New York Times article
week describes efforts to redraw the city’s flood maps, noting, “With its
520 miles of coastline and thousands of acres of waterfront development,
New York has more residents living in high-risk flood zones than any other
city in the country.” In 2012 Superstorm Sandy hit New York and surrounding
areas, and the resulting roughly $70 billion in storm damages
<http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/AL182012_Sandy.pdf> made it the
second-costliest weather disaster in U.S. history, second only to Hurricane
Katrina. Approximately $19 billion of those damages were in New York City
alone, according to the New York  City Office of Management and Budget.

This week the city administration also acknowledged that while $20 billion
has been budgeted to deal with the coming impacts of climate change — that
will only be a first step. New York City will continue to deal with the
risks of storms like 2012’s Sandy as well as the inevitable impacts of sea
level rise, and solutions, even if successful, will be very costly.

Various proposals to protect NYC from the ocean’s rise have been floated,
and none are cheap. Ideas include building a string of barrier islands
from New Jersey to Long Island and simply building a wall around
lower Manhattan.

New York avoided the recent flooding that Boston experienced in the first
major storm of 2018. Still, Boston experienced its highest tide in 100 years
this storm, showing what may await other coastal cities. New models say
that storms will cause major flooding
in New York City every five years.

And models that predict sea level
rise show that drastic measures will have to be enacted to protect the city
from the ocean.
*Who Will Pay for It?*

A day before New York's announcement, Jack Gerard, CEO of the American
Petroleum Institute
<https://www.desmogblog.com/american-petroleum-institute>, gave his annual
on the state of the oil industry, and there was a noticeable shift in the
message when it came to climate change.

“I think we’re at the point where we need to get over the conversation of
who believes and who doesn’t, and move to a conversation about solutions,”
Gerard said, referring to climate change.

Even the head of the oil and gas industry's largest lobbying group publicly
says that climate change is real and he wants to discuss solutions. Of
course, one solution, pointed out by scientists
to greatly reduce the amount of carbon humans release into the atmosphere
by leaving fossil fuels in the ground, which might minimize future costs
and damages.

However, enough greenhouse gases have already been emitted to lock in a
significant level of global warming and related changes to Earth's systems.
Cities like New York are now facing the very costly consequences of global
inaction to reduce climate change. API likely realizes that when it comes
time to pay the bill for climate change, many will ask oil companies and
other major polluters to cover the cost, which is probably not
the solution Gerard is looking for.

Which is also probably one reason API is working to influence judges in
as The Center for Public Integrity reported in 2017. As damages due to
climate change continue to stack up, more lawsuits against the
deep-pocketed companies who are at least partially responsible will likely
also be on the rise.

“The costs to address climate damages and prepare for future impacts are
enormous and growing,” said Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy
and chief climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“Taxpayers and impacted communities are right to demand that major fossil
fuel companies, which have knowingly made the situation worse, pay their
fair share.”

New York City is taking historic steps to address the very real dangers of
climate change because when you are the mayor of a city surrounded by water
like Mayor de Blasio, there is one thing you can bank on

“The next storm is out there — it’s not a matter of if, but when,” de
Blasio said.

More intense and frequent storms will come and the sea will rise. The
question remains who will pay for the damage.
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