New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced on December 9th that The New York State Common Retirement Fund, the third-largest pension fund in the United States, will be divesting from fossil fuels by 2025. The Comptroller also committed to decarbonizing the pension fund by 2040. The plan, which is a groundbreaking decision, will have immense ramifications in the investment world and is a critical step forward in the fight against climate change.
Katelyn Kriesel, who is one of our advisors, has been a lead organizer with the Divest NY coalition. During meetings with Comptroller DiNapoli, she discussed how moving out of fossil fuels was not only good for the planet, but green funds performed better than investment funds that included coal, oil, and gas. The Divest NY coalition is a people-powered group of citizens and activists from around the state who have been working tirelessly for several years to achieve divestment from New York State.
The comprehensive divestment strategy will evaluate fossil fuel companies and their climate change risk on a rolling basis. This includes not only the oil majors, but exploration, transportation, small integrated oil and gas companies, equipment services, and storage.
The New York State Common Retirement Fund totals $226 billion dollars. Comptroller DiNapoli is the sole trustee and his office administers the New York State and Local Retirement System for public employees, with more than one million members, retirees and beneficiaries and more than 3,000 employers.
Comptroller DiNapoli has cited climate change as not only the biggest issue facing generations to come, he also recognized that changes need to be made in the business world as the planet warms and sea levels rise. “Climate change is one of the most significant risks facing investors and the warnings are growing increasingly dire,” DiNapoli said earlier this year.
Katelyn Kriesel said: “This is a decision that will have a tremendous impact on the investment world. In addition to fossil fuel divestment, this is also an incredible opportunity for reinvestment into renewables and the green economy. Every day we work with more individuals, families, and businesses who want to match their investments with their values. We welcome the over 1 million New Yorkers who will be joining our clients and will be reaping the rewards of socially responsible and ESG investing.”
Kriesel is also a Town Councilor in the Town of Manlius and sees the benefit to her community, and communities around the state. “Every year, New York State taxpayers fund the state pension based on how well its investments have performed. As fossil fuel companies have historically underperformed the broader market, that has left taxpayers on the hook. As we transition to a green economy, New York State taxpayers and municipalities will now reap the benefits of a fund that has included this climate change risk analysis. I thank the Comptroller for his leadership and for his commitment to my daughters’ future, the future of New Yorkers, and the future of all people, all around the world.”
Sue Hansen, also a Financial Advisor of Hansen’s Advisory Services, said, “when we began talking about socially responsible investing in the 1980s, we were one of a few organizations educating people on how their investments could make change happen in the world. It is exciting to see our state recognize socially responsible investing can not only bring profit to its retirement fund members but will also create a healthier planet for our grandchildren. The team at Divest NY also deserves congratulations for bringing this information to the Comptroller’s office and keeping the conversation moving over the last five years. Everything is possible when doors are open and people are willing to listen.”