DIVEST NY NEWS AUGUST 2023
The Common Retirement Fund:
It All Comes Down to Exxon
DiNapoli to Review Oil and Gas
A little less than a year ago, Comptroller DiNapoli and the Common Retirement Fund (CRF) announced that they were beginning their review of the large oil and gas companies. This was phase four in the divestment process that was agreed to between the Comptroller and Senator Krueger and was celebrated by Divest NY, Bill McKibben, and climate activists around the world. The basic plan was for the CRF to undertake reviews of various sub-sectors of the fossil fuel industry and divest from any companies found to be a risk to the CRF because they lacked a viable plan for transitioning to a world fueled by renewables.
The first review was coal. And the results were pretty good—roughly 80% of the companies reviewed were divested. Then came oil sands companies, followed by shale oil and gas. The results of these reviews were less strong, but still good, and they resulted in more divestment.
Yet still the jury is out as to whether the CRF divestment agreement has been a success. And that’s because of Exxon.
There can be no doubt that Exxon is the poster child for climate evil. The evidence is clear that Exxon knew decades ago that climate change would cause catastrophic warming and that instead of seeking solutions, it engaged in public disinformation, putting profits above planetary health. The evidence is also clear that Exxon has resisted informed climate policies and continues to pollute on a grand scale while exerting its financial and political influence to get away with it. And with the climate crisis growing more evident every day—fires, smoke from fires, insanely high temperatures, the destruction of the coral reef in Florida, the runaway melting of polar ice and 1,000 year floods in New York—the case for divesting from Exxon is stronger than ever.
And now the CRF is nearing completion of its review of Exxon and the rest of the integrated oil and gas sub-sector. Will the Comptroller divest from Exxon or will he backslide when faced with the prospect of taking on the most powerful climate villain in America? We should know soon. If Comptroller DiNapoli divests from Exxon, then he will be living up to his billing as a climate hero. If he does not, we need to react accordingly, with vigor that matches the intensity and urgency of the climate catastrophe.
Letter to the NYS Teacher's Retirement System Board
by Sally Courtright
It was an honor to run for the NYSTRS retired member board seat this past Fall. This pension fund has served our New York State teachers for over one hundred years. Teachers devote themselves to enriching the lives of our precious children.
I contacted several retired teachers at the start of my campaign. In response, one individual claimed that I was a one issue candidate. She was exactly right! I think that this robust fund is wonderful except for its decision to continue to invest in fossil fuels.
The extraction, transport and combustion of these fuels creates a plethora of pollution. This toxic pollution adversely affects human health and dramatically disrupts our once stable climate. These horrific problems will grow much worse if we fail to curtail our use of these dirty products.
The over four billion dollars of fossil fuel money that is invested in the NYSTRS fund helps finance new development by these companies. It helps make capital available for new projects including pipelines and compressor stations.
Divestment of billions of dollars in fossil fuels is a vital aspect of climate mitigation. It is a smart and simple process. We must all do what we can to ensure a safer, cleaner and more secure future for our children, grandchildren and students.
As I conclude I am reading the cover of an issue of ‘NYSUT UNITED’ which asks what are we for? The given answers include safe schools, strong communities and professional respect. These are excellent goals, but the results of the NYSTRS election suggest that folks would also like to see divestment of their pension fund. As an unknown I ran for this seat as I called for divestment and collected nearly 40% of the vote. Teachers are smart and informed. They want a clean pension fund.
DIVEST NY is a volunteer run coalition of grassroots groups and individuals that demand that our public pensions stop funding fossil fuels that are the cause of our climate crisis. We must invest in renewable energy to create a sustainable future for us all.
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