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'Tide Is Turning': Cheers Erupt for NYC's Suit Against Fossil Fuel Giants and Divestment

"We are taking the largest action by any city to confront the growing climate crisis and demonstrate the leadership necessary to win this fight against fossil fuels and the damages they've caused."

Climate advocates hailed what they say is a "watershed" moment on Wednesday following two announcements by New York City: that the city would seek to divest its pension funds from fossil fuels within five years, and that it filed suit against five fossil fuel giants for their role in driving the climate crisis.

“This is a first-in-the-nation step to protect our future and our planet—for this generation and the next," said Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

Stringer announced last month that he would soon bring a proposal to the trustees of the pension funds that included divestment. Following through on that promise, a statement from the city released Wednesday says that he and Mayor Bill de Blasio "will submit a joint resolution to pension fund trustees" to begin the steps needed to purge the funds from the dirty industry, which will first entail an analysis on the financial impacts to be carried out by the City Comptroller's Bureau of Asset Management.

350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said in a tweet responding to the news that it was "One of the biggest days in 30 years of the climate fight."

The city's five pension funds hold $189 billion in assets, and roughly $5 billion of that amount are held in the securities of over 190 fossil fuel companies, the city says.
 
The new lawsuit names BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell and seeks billions of dollars in damages for harm already inflicted on the city as a result of the climate crisis as well for preparing for effects yet to come, including "imminent threats to its property, its infrastructure, and the health and safety of its residents."
 
New York's lawsuit follows similar suits filed by seven cities and counties in California.
 
The city's statement references the industry's deliberate misinformation campaign to cover up the effects of fossil fuels.
 
"We're bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits," de Blasio said in a statement. "As climate change continues to worsen, it's up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient."
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