Mayor Pushes Pension Funds to Dump Coal Stocks

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio has called on the city’s $160 billion public pension funds to dump their investments in coal companies and reconsider investments in other fossil fuels as he pushes a clean energy agenda for the city.

De Blasio’s comments on Tuesday are the latest in a growing chorus advocating cutting coal from public pension portfolios. His remarks come after California lawmakers passed a bill requiring the state’s pension funds to sell their investments in coal companies earlier this month.

“New York City is a global leader when it comes to taking on climate change and reducing our environmental footprint. It’s time that our investments catch up ? and divestment from coal is where we must start,” de Blasio said in a statement.

The divestment movement is gaining momentum worldwide, as well as in the United States.

Norway’s parliament recently voted to reduce coal investments in its $880 billion sovereign wealth fund. Stanford University and the University of Maine have made similar moves.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts have introduced a bill that would force the state’s $60 billion public pension system of it holdings in all fossil fuel companies, including those involved in oil and gas, within five years. Similar bills have also been introduced in Vermont and Connecticut.

New York City’s five public pension funds have around $33 million in thermal coal investments, the mayor’s office said. Each of the funds is run by a separate board that has to sign off on investment decisions.

The mayor’s office said it will be making the suggestions to the five boards in the coming months. An analysis by the Mayor’s Office of Pensions and Investments found that divesting from coal posed little risk to returns, the mayor’s office said.

It was not immediately clear which coal stocks would be impacted in any divestment. The city comptroller’s office, which administers the funds, did not immediately respond for comment.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Alan Crosby)