Hopefully this works
The city is moving to dump its investments in fossil fuels, and suing five big oil companies, charging they are responsible for global warming that has cost the city billions.
Mayor de Blasio and City Controller Scott Stringer announced Wednesday that they will aim to divest the cityâ€™s pension funds from $5 billion in investments of more than 190 fossil fuel companies within five years.
And the city filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court late Tuesday against the five largest fossil fuel companies in the world â€” BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell â€” looking to force them to help foot the bill for the $20 billion the city is spending to rebuild from Hurricane Sandy and protect itself against future storms.
â€śClimate change is real. Itâ€™s a painful, horrible reality,â€ť de Blasio said at a lower Manhattan community center that was swamped with 20 feet of water during Sandy. â€śWeâ€™re going after those who have profited â€” and what a horrible, disgusting way to profit.â€ť
The city charges that the companies should be forced to pay damages because they knew as early as the 1980s that burning fossil fuels could have a catastrophic effect on the climate, but deliberately deceived authorities and the public.
They argue in court papers that the five oil giants broke public and private nuisance laws and are guilty of illegal trespassing on city property by causing floods and sea level rises.
The suit doesnâ€™t specify an amount of damages, but de Blasio said New York would seek billions. â€śFor decades big oil ravaged the environment,â€ť he said. â€śThey used a classic cynical playbook. They denied and denied and denied that their product was lethal...Itâ€™s time for them to start paying for the damage theyâ€™ve done.â€ť
San Francisco and Oakland filed similar suits last year.
Trustees of the cityâ€™s five pension funds will have to approve a move to divest from fossil fuels, a portion of the cityâ€™s $189 billion pension portfolios.
The two biggest funds, New York City Employeesâ€™ Retirement System and the Teachersâ€™ Retirement System, have majorities that support divestment, officials said Wednesday. Itâ€™s unclear if the other three do. The effects of climate change around the world
As a first step, de Blasio and Stringer will submit a resolution to the funds Thursday to analyze the financial risks of the investments and the legality of divestment.
Gov. Cuomo has also sought to divest the state from fossil fuel companies, but unlike Stringer, state Controller Tom DiNapoli is not on board.
Hizzoner has faced criticism for hypocrisy on his climate preaching â€” since he regularly relies on city-owned SUVs to ferry him around the city, most notoriously on 12 mile trips to his gym in Park Slope most mornings, instead of cutting his own fossil fuel use by taking the subway.
Asked Wednesday if he would change his habits, de Blasio demurred. â€śItâ€™s a hybrid,â€ť he said of his car, a Chevy Tahoe that gets about 20 miles per gallon.
Oil companies slammed de Blasioâ€™s move.
â€śThis lawsuit is factually and legally meritless, and will do nothing to address the serious issue of climate change,â€ť said Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall. â€śShould this litigation proceed, it will only serve special interests at the expense of broader policy, regulatory and economic priorities.â€ť Mayor de Blasio (pictured) and City Controller Scott Stringer plan to sue five big oil companies charging they are responsible for global warming that has cost the city billions.
ExxonMobil spokesman Scott Silvestri said the company welcomes â€śgood faithâ€ť attempts to tackle climate change. â€śLawsuits of this kind â€” filed by trial attorneys against an industry that provides products we all rely upon to power the economy and enable our domestic life â€” simply do not do that,â€ť he said.
But climate activist Naomi Klein said the cityâ€™s suit could be a game changer.
Previously, itâ€™s mostly been tiny towns, isolated islands, and groups of homeowners that have attempted to sue the oil companies over climate change.
â€śThese have been valiant attempts, but in every case the industry has relied on the relative weakness and poverty of its accusers, sometimes managing to quash suits before they were even filed,â€ť Klein said. â€śBullying isnâ€™t going to work here the way it has in the past. This lawsuit is coming from the largest city in the most powerful country in the planet.â€ť
"...the street finds its own uses for things"