Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

NYC's Biggest Pension Fund Lost $135 Million From Oil and Gas Holdings

Energy
NYC's Biggest Pension Fund Lost $135 Million From Oil and Gas Holdings

A new report from Advisor Partners revealed that in one year alone, New York City’s largest pension fund lost around $135 million from their holdings in the top 100 oil and gas companies. The Teacher’s Retirement System of the City of New York, representing more than 200,000 teachers, educators and workers, incurred a 25 percent reduction in returns of their $60 billion fund from investments in oil and gas.

Protestors call on the State of New York to divest from fossil fuels. Photo credit: Adam Welz for 350.org / Flickr

“If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage—but our city’s pension funds are incurring nothing but losses by investing in fossil fuels," Mimi Bluestone, a member of the United Federation of Teachers and a campaigner with 350NYC, said. “The money lost from oil and gas investments just in the last year is equivalent to putting about 7,000 students through school for a year. It’s time for New York City to get out of the business of climate destruction.”

The findings of this report add significant momentum to activists calling for fossil fuel divestment. Organizers with 350NYC have been campaigning for the city council to divest the city’s five pension funds from all fossil fuels for over three years. During the Paris climate talks, it was announced that more than 500 institutions representing over $3.4 trillion in assets under management have committed to some level of fossil fuel divestment.

ExxonMobil and Chevron were the largest contributors to the fund’s declining performance, causing losses surpassing $39 million. In November, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into Exxon’s climate lies after groundbreaking reports revealed that the corporation knew about climate change for decades, yet poured resources into discrediting their research and sowing doubt among the public. California Attorney General Kamala Harris has also launched an investigation.

“Oil & gas companies are volatile investments. The fact that these companies underperformed both the U.S. and broader global index by more than 25 percent confirms the riskiness of these companies,” Rahul Agrawal, CIO of Equities for Advisor Partners, said. “Portfolio managers should carefully reassess their exposure to these securities before investing in them.”

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Mayor Bill De Blasio have already issued urgent calls for the city’s pension funds to divest from coal. Coal is on its way out, oil prices are plummeting and major fossil fuel companies are filing for bankruptcy, slashing jobs and cancelling projects.

On Wednesday, prominent financial and political figures, including Scott Stringer, will gather at the United Nations for the Investor Summit on Climate Risk hosted by Ceres.

“The prudence of divesting from coal is so legible it is quickly becoming the norm. Oil and gas are on a more asperous decline, making it harder for investors to see the mounting risk associated with the industry. New York City’s pension funds need to divest now, as cautious, long-term investors,” Brett Fleishman, senior analyst with 350.org, said.

“With this summit happening right in their backyard, NYC’s comptroller and pension fund managers must communicate exactly what they’re doing to incorporate ever-increasing climate risk mitigation and to protect the future of New York City’s workers.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE 

6 Ways to Kick Fossil Fuel Money Out of Politics

Canada’s Trudeau to DiCaprio: Tone Down ‘Inflammatory Rhetoric’ on Climate Change

World’s Top Carbon Reserves That Must Be Kept in the Ground to Prevent Climate Chaos

Who Really Benefits From Global Giving of Billionaires Like Bill Gates?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A resident works in the vegetable garden of the Favela Nova Esperanca – a "green favela" which reuses everything and is subject to the ethics of permaculture – in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Feb. 14, 2020. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP via Getty Images

Farmers are the stewards of our planet's precious soil, one of the least understood and untapped defenses against climate change. Because of its massive potential to store carbon and foundational role in growing our food supply, soil makes farming a solution for both climate change and food security.

Read More Show Less
Once the virus escapes into the air inside a building, you have two options: bring in fresh air from outside or remove the virus from the air inside the building. Halfpoint Images / Getty Images

By Shelly Miller

The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs indoors, most of it from the inhalation of airborne particles that contain the coronavirus. The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in a home or business would be to simply keep infected people away. But this is hard to do when an estimated 40% of cases are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people can still spread the coronavirus to others.

Read More Show Less
California Senator Kamala Harris endorses Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at a campaign rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan on March 9, 2020. JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made a historic announcement Tuesday when he named California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the 2020 presidential election.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows a large patch of leaked oil from the MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius. STRINGER / AFP / Getty Images

The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.

On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.

France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.

The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.

"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."

Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.

By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.

The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.

"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.

While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.

"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.

Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.

Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.

A northern mockingbird on June 24, 2016. Renee Grayson / CC BY 2.0

Environmentalists and ornithologists found a friend in a federal court on Tuesday when a judge struck down a Trump administration attempt to allow polluters to kill birds without repercussions through rewriting the Migratory Treaty Bird Act (MBTA).

Read More Show Less
A spiny dogfish shark swims in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Washington. NOAA / Wikimedia Commons

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

There are trillions of microplastics in the ocean — they bob on the surface, float through the water column, and accumulate in clusters on the seafloor. With plastic being so ubiquitous, it's inevitable that marine organisms, such as sharks, will ingest them.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A "vessel of opportunity" skims oil spilled after the Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. NOAA / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Loveday Wright and Stuart Braun

After a Japanese-owned oil tanker struck a reef off Mauritius on July 25, a prolonged period of inaction is threatening to become an ecological disaster.

Read More Show Less