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Last week, city officials announced that New York was to divest its pension funds of about $5bn in fossil fuel-linked money over the next five years. New York’s total pension fund for its teachers, firefighters and other city workers is worth about $189bn.
Bill de Blasio, New York’s mayor, also revealed the city is suing the world’s largest oil and gas companies over their role in knowingly creating dangerous global warming in a two-pronged assault that he said is aimed at “standing up for future generations.”
Economists said the status of New York as a financial and cultural giant would probably spur other cities in the U.S. and worldwide to divest and, more significantly, build momentum in the global shift required to reduce emissions and stave off the worst consequences of climate change.
“This is a really big deal,” said Jeffrey Sachs, an economist at New York’s Columbia University and special adviser to the UN secretary general. “Pension funds of other major U.S. cities will follow, I think. New York is the neighborhood of the very big money managers. It’s a powerful, personal signal to them that they cannot keep funding the sorts of projects they have in the past.”
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