This article first appeared on The Guardian and is viewable online here.
As New York and London mayors, we call on all cities to divest from fossil fuels
Together, the world’s urban centres can send a message to the fossil fuel industry: join us in tackling climate change
• Bill de Blasio is mayor of New York City and Sadiq Khan is mayor of London
This summer it seemed as if our two cities had changed places. London was hot and dry while New York had days and days of rain. According to leading scientists, the heatwave in Europe over recent months was made twice as likely by climate change resulting from human activity. There is also growing evidence of the link between climate change and the frequency of major floods, as well as the severity of hurricanes.
It’s clear that what we think of now as freak weather in our cities is likely to become the new normal, and that climate change poses a huge threat to the futures of our children, and many generations to come.
As mayors, we are not only committed to taking bold action to tackle climate change and to improve the lives of those we represent, but also to showing others the way. That’s why, ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in California, we are calling on other cities to stand with us to divest their assets from fossil fuel companies. Today we are announcing a new global initiative for cities on divestment and sustainable investment. Working through the C40 Climate Leadership Group, London and New York will co-chair the Cities Divest/Invest forum, a global network for cities that will not only enable us to share tools, knowledge and experiences, but also to advocate for action on divestment and green investment.
London and New York are two of the world’s most dynamic, innovative and forward-thinking cities, and we are determined to push ahead with the goals of the Paris agreement – stealing a march on many national governments.
We know that tackling climate change requires action across the board – from how we run our transport networks to using cleaner energy and making our buildings more energy-efficient. But we must also use our economic might to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
We believe that ending institutional investment in companies that extract fossil fuels and contribute directly to climate change can help send a very powerful message that renewables and low-carbon options are the future. If we want to fund the scale of transformation the world needs, we must foster sustainable investment and use the power of institutional investors, such as pension funds.
That’s why – in both London and New York – we are taking all possible steps to divest our city pension funds from fossil fuels.
Already, less than 2% of the London Pension Fund Authority’s investments of £5.5bn ($7.1bn) are in extractive fossil fuels – this year, the authority has rid itself of a further £700,000 of fossil fuel investments, including stakes in Shell and BP, and has plans in place to divest its remaining investments.