March 23, 2021

By Ramona du Houx

Former New York Assistant Assemblyman Speaker Félix W. Ortiz, Army Veteran (Ret).

New York City’s pension fund will more than double investments in climate change solutions to over $6 billion. This surpasses the goal set in September 2018 to double the then-$2 billion investment across all asset classes to reach $4 billion of investment in companies that generate revenue from climate mitigation, adaption and resiliency such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable waste management, green buildings, and pollution prevention. 

“The climate crisis must be met head-on and from all fronts. This multi-billion investment in green tech and divestment from fossil fuels is a winning combination for our planet, our city and our pensioners,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Our pension trustees are meeting the moment by doubling investments and securing a greener future for New York City.”

The Mayor, Comptroller, and trustees set a goal to double investments in climate change solutions such as wind, solar power, energy efficient technologies, and more from approximately $2 billion or 1 percent of assets at the time to approximately $4 billion or 2 percent of assets by the end of 2021. 

“When the state divested from fossil fuels earlier this year, all parties concerned embraced thinking environmentally and economically. We took into account the devastation fossil fuel pollution has on communities of color and low income. For decades people living there have endured breathing in toxic pollutants daily,” said former New York Assistant Assemblyman Speaker Félix W. Ortiz, Army Veteran (Ret), Elected Officials to Protect America Leadership Council member.

Ortiz led the effort with a bill in the Assembly for the state’s Divestment from the pension fund. EOPA worked with Ortiz as well as independently collecting signatures on a divestment letter from hundreds of New York elected officials. EOPA is a coalition of elected officials from every state dedicated in protecting the environment and combating the climate crisis.

“Now, at the state and New York City level, it’s good to see the focus is moving forward on climate change solutions. We’re looking to the future with secure sustainable investments to help the health of pension funds and our people,” added Ortiz.

With a vote last Friday, March 19, the New York City pension fund approved allocations to climate change solutions public equity investments, identified by the Comptroller’s Office Bureau of Asset Management, that bring the aggregate investments, including new commitments, to over $6 billion across the portfolio of all five pension funds.

“We need to meet the climate crisis with everything we’ve got, and that’s why New York City is leading the way forward with investments in sustainable solutions for our planet, our children, and our retirees,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

Stringer serves as the investment advisor to, and custodian and a trustee of, the New York City Pension Funds.

“New York City is standing up for our people, our pension beneficiaries, and the only Earth we have because the future is on the side of big ideas in clean energy — not big polluters. Investing in climate change solutions is in the fiduciary interest of our beneficiaries and together we’re leading the charge to build a cleaner and greener future for all,” he added.

It includes companies that are measurably helping to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy consistent with goals established by the Paris Climate Accord. This achievement builds on three of the pension funds’ $4 billion divestment from securities related to fossil fuel companies – expected to be one of the largest in the world.

 “Combatting the existential threat posed by the climate crisis demands decisive and consequential action — both reactive and proactive — to ensure our communities remain habitable for the generations that follow us. By divesting billions of dollars from fossil fuels and investing those funds into the climate mitigation and renewable energy industries, New York City is making a smart investment on behalf of its pensioners and once again proving its leadership on the front lines of our shared fight for a greener, cleaner future,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr.