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New York State Divests Pension Funds from Fossil Fuels

By Staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, January 2021

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has announced that New York State’s Common Retirement Fund, valued at over $226 billion, will decarbonize by 2040. The plan includes interim trajectory goals, rigorous reporting, staff hiring, and transparency.

New York State is the largest pension fund in the world to take this kind of bold and comprehensive climate action. The announcement follows an eight-year campaign by #DivestNY, a coalition of more than 40 different groups.

Nancy Romer, chair of the environmental justice working group of Professional Staff Congress-City University of New York(CUNY)/American Federation of Teachers 2334, representing 30,000 faculty and professional staff at CUNY, says, “As state workers, we stand in solidarity with other state workers who can rest assured that their hard-earned pension funds will be protected from the failing fossil fuel sector of our economy and from the destructive effects it has on our planet’s climate.” Doug Bullock, a state pensioner and Albany County Central Federation of Labor first Vice President, says:

I urge the members and leadership of my union the Public Employees Federation and CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association) and NYSUT (New York State United Teachers) to support “decarbonize the NYS Pension Fund” which includes divesting from fossil fuel corporations and is a major step forward by Comptroller DiNapoli. This divestment will be converted to investing in renewable and sustainable energy sources, making our fund more fiscally responsible and valuable during the climate change crisis. The Albany County Central Federation of Labor passed a resolution supporting divestment in fossil fuels as did the Troy Area Labor Council (TALC). As First Vice President of ACCFL and Delegate to TALC, I urge the entire labor movement to decarbonize pension funds.”

DivestNY and Local unions in NYSUT are now calling for fossil fuel divestment from the New York State Teachers Retirement System as a next step.

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