Fossil Fuel Divestment

In a December 21, 2017, article, The New Yorker reported that The Movement to Divest from Fossil Fuels Gains Momentum. “Tuesday should have been a day of unmitigated joy for America’s oil and gas executives. The new G.O.P. tax bill treats their companies with great tenderness, reducing even further their federal tax burden. And the bill gave them something else they’ve sought for decades: permission to go a-drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But, around four in the afternoon, something utterly unexpected began to happen. A news release went out from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, saying that New York was going to divest its vast pension-fund investments in fossil fuels. The state, Cuomo said, would be ‘ceasing all new investments in entities with significant fossil-fuel-related activities,’ and he would set up a committee with Thomas DiNapoli, the state comptroller, to figure out how to ‘decarbonize’ the existing portfolio. Cuomo’s office even provided a handy little Twitter meme of the type that activists often create: it showed three smoke-belching stacks and the legend ‘New York Is Divesting from Fossil Fuels.’ The pension fund under Albany’s control totals two hundred billion dollars, making it one of the twenty largest pools of money on Earth. Not to be outdone, half an hour later the comptroller of the city of New York, Scott Stringer, sent out a similar statement: he, too, was now actively investigating methods for ‘ceasing additional investments in fossil fuels, divesting current holdings in fossil-fuel companies, and increasing investments in clean energy.’ Stringer’s pension funds add up to a hundred and ninety billion dollars—that’s in the top twenty, too.”

This follows the December 12, 2017, announcement in The Guardian, World Bank to end financial support for oil and gas extraction. “The World Bank will end its financial support for oil and gas extraction within the next two years in response to the growing threat posed by climate change. In a statement that delighted campaigners opposed to fossil fuels, the Bank used a conference in Paris to announce that it ‘will no longer finance upstream oil and gas’ after 2019. The Bank ceased lending for coal-fired power stations in 2010 but has been under pressure from lobby groups also to halt the $1bn (£750m) a year it has been lending for oil and gas in developing countries. The Bank said it saw the need to change the way it was operating in a ‘rapidly changing world,’ adding that it was on course to have 28% of its lending going to climate action by 2020. At present, 1-2% of the Bank’s $280bn portfolio is accounted for by oil and gas projects.”