Story at a glance

  • The New York State Common Retirement Fund will divest from fossil fuel companies by 2025.
  • Twenty-two coal companies have already been removed from the fund’s portfolio.

In line with the state’s broader plan to completely divest public funds from fossil fuels, the New York State Common Retirement Fund plans to sell its assets linked to oil and gas companies by 2025.

Historically, New York’s Retirement Fund has held more than $12 billion in investments linked to fossil fuel companies, one of the key emitters of carbon and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced on Wednesday that $226 billion in public funds will instead recalibrate its portfolio to be carbon net-zero by 2040.

This move comes a year ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland.


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“New York’s announcement is the biggest leap forward worldwide on climate finance action in 2020, an otherwise bleak year for the planet,” the official statement read. “It creates the most comprehensive program of any large public fund worldwide to divest from fossil fuels, decarbonize across a massive portfolio, and put major financial pressure on public companies -- from auto companies to utilities -- to align their operations with the scale of climate action needed to stave off worldwide catastrophe.”

DiNapoli’s office plans to review each fossil fuel subsector, scrutinizing companies that work in oil sands, fracking, oil, fossil fuel services and oil and gas transportation and pipelines. Through this analysis, New York aims to put pressure on major public companies to invest in sustainable business alternatives to retain high-profile investors. 

The goal to decarbonize New York’s Retirement Fund by 2040 is a decade sooner than similar plans for any other U.S. pension fund. As of now, the state’s pension fund has evaluated and divested from 22 coal companies. 

This plan follows New York City’s 2018 pledge to divest its pension funds from fossil fuel investments within five years on the start of the initiative.


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Published on Dec 09, 2020