Photograph of a protest in NYC.
Photograph of a protest in NYC.
OneNYC 2050 : Volume 7 of 9 : A Livable Climate

Fight for climate accountability and justice

New York City will continue to fight for climate accountability and a just transition to carbon neutrality, climate resiliency, and a clean economy. We will hold those responsible for climate change to account; advocate for sound policy that is grounded in science; and work alongside our communities to improve environmental quality for all, seek to redress current and past injustice, and create economic opportunities for every New Yorker.

The burning of fossil fuels is the single largest contributor to human-caused climate change, a fact long denied by fossil fuel companies. These companies knew that burning fossil fuels would change our climate, and cause sea level rise, increased heat, and severe storms. New York City is fighting to hold the fossil fuel industry responsible for its role in the climate crisis. We will continue to pursue our lawsuit against fossil fuel companies for refusing to act when they knew the damage they were causing and we are taking prudent steps to protect the financial interests of New Yorkers and divest City pension funds of fossil fuel company holdings.

Additionally, we will continue to support creative approaches to educate and engage New Yorkers about climate change and the importance of climate action. Public art campaigns and activism, particularly youth-led climate activism, play a valuable role in giving people a voice and bringing New Yorkers into the climate conversation. We will also continue to fight federal rollbacks and promote sound science in policymaking. And we are asking cities across the nation and around the world to join us in all of these efforts to foster climate accountability and justice.

Pursue The City’s Lawsuit Against The Five Largest Investor-Owned Fossil Fuel Companies

The City is suing BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell to recover billions of dollars the City will spend on resiliency measures to protect the city from the ongoing and increasingly severe impacts of climate change. The resiliency measures include physical infrastructure — such as coastal protections, upgraded water and sewer infrastructure, and heat mitigation — and public health programs, such as to help protect residents from the effects of extreme heat.

Divest The City’s Pension Funds Of All Fossil Fuel Reserve Owners

The City’s pension funds hold roughly $5 billion in securities in more than 100 fossil fuel reserve owners — those companies that own the oil and gas in the ground. The City’s strategy is to divest these holdings by 2022, consistent with prudent practice and in line with our fiduciary responsibilities. Fossil fuel securities have consistently underperformed in the market in recent years, and the outlook for fossil fuel investments continues to be poor — making divestment not just the right thing to do in the fight against climate change, but also the responsible action to protect our pensions. And we will pursue opportunities to leverage New York City’s position as a financial capital to further drive divestment from the fossil fuel industry.

Advocate For Robust Regulation Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

It is essential that the City is a strong voice in advocating for strict GHG emissions regulation and that we fight federal attempts to divorce regulatory efforts from sound science. The City will support the State’s inclusion in the Transportation and Climate Initiative’s regional low carbon transportation proposal. And we will continue to pursue a lawsuit to fight federal attempts to rollback essential regulations limiting GHG emissions, including those that govern new and existing power plants and light duty vehicles. We will also continue to fight the federal government’s attempts to discount valuable science and create insurmountable administrative and logistical hurdles to impede consideration of the best available scientific evidence.

Partner With Global Cities To Foster Climate Accountability And Climate Justice

The City will continue to form valuable partnerships with other cities and work through networks to scale up climate solutions and share tools, knowledge, and best practices, to ensure climate change is addressed on a global scale. Climate change is affecting every city, state, and country, and it is imperative for New York City to share lessons on climate action.

In 2019, New York City partnered with the City of London and C40 Cities, a group of international cities working together to address climate change, to create the Divest/Invest Forum. This partnership will bring the best practices for sustainable investing and fossil fuel divestment to cities and pension funds around the globe. In addition, the City is also partnering with Barcelona for the Inclusive Climate Action Forum, also sponsored by C40 Cities, which aims to provide overarching guidance for cities to both assess inclusivity of their climate actions and recommendations, and to design fairer and more equitable policies.