BIG news came out of Albany this week. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, the sole trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, is finally talking about divesting from fossil fuel companies. He has committed to moving forward with divesting from coal companies if they refuse to change their business practices.
This is the first time the comptroller has discussed moving forward with fossil fuel divestment of any kind. This is huge.
Now, let’s talk about this more for a minute. What is happening here? What is the comptroller’s strategy? Why is the comptroller talking about this now?
The reason DiNapoli is threatening to divest from coal companies is he is trying to put pressure on them to change their business practices and move toward a more environmentally friendly business model. Why is he doing this? Because the strategy he has deployed for the last several years has not worked. His strategy of leveraging New York State’s ownership stake in these 27 coal companies hasn’t worked. Why? Because it doesn’t matter how much you vote at the annual meeting, or what resolutions you put forward, you cannot change the fundamental business practice of a company.
I would never buy shares of Phillip Morris and try to get them to sell coffee beans. Why not? Because it would be ridiculous.
If shareholder advocacy hasn’t worked, then a threat to divest won’t work either. These 27 companies are in the business of coal, and they’re not going to change their business practices to appease one shareholder. They couldn’t if they wanted to.
It is time that the comptroller abandons this strategy of trying to change the business models of these companies and divest, for the good of the pensioners, all New Yorkers, and our planet.
If you feel strongly about fossil fuel divestment, you can call (518) 474-4044), email, or tweet at Comptroller DiNapoli and tell him you want to see him divest.
It is time to commit and divest from fossil fuel companies.
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