‹ All Blog Posts

June 11, 2019

DiNapoli Reasserts Divestment Position as State Adopts Climate Adaptation Plan

New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reasserted his position against fossil fuel divestment this week as he rolled out a new report detailing plans to increase select “sustainable investments” and engagement efforts. Despite pressure from some upstate politicians, DiNapoli has long chosen action over divestment, calling the empty gesture a costly effort that goes against his fiduciary duty. Today’s Climate Action Plan is no different, despite what some may want you to think.

As reported by POLITICO New York (sub req’d), the Comptroller is executing some of the recommendations outlined by a Decarbonization Advisory Panel, including doubling “sustainable investments to $20 billion,” “hiring additional staff” to carry out the program, and “integrat{ing} climate risk assessment policies in reviewing companies.” As highlighted by the comptroller himself, this plan continues to place an emphasis on proactive investments and engagement, with divestment as a “last resort.” From the report:

Divestment is a last resort and should be reserved for specific investments (and not the fossil fuel industry generally) where there is an articulable, serious, and sustained financial risk to continuing the investment and where an economic analysis demonstrates that divesting would not have a negative economic impact on the [Common Retirement Fund]. At this time, broad-based fossil fuel divestment by the CRF is not consistent with the Comptroller’s fiduciary duty, and would not be effectual for either risk reduction or broader climate change mitigation.”

The position from the state comptroller is unsurprising. As he gas stated in opposition to select upstate politicians pushing the divestment agenda:

“…there is no evidence that divesting the Fund from owners of fossil fuel reserves would do anything to actually mitigate climate change.”

“[the Fund] has earned over $4 billion over the last 10 years from the same ‘fossil fuels’ companies identified in the 2018 Corporate Knights Study.”

“… an investment decision such as divestment requires a financial and economic analysis demonstrating that divesting would not have a negative economic impact on the Fund.”

Previous economic reports have estimated the cost of divestment for New York state between $136 million and $198 million annually, growing to losses of $1.1 trillion and $1.5 trillion over 50 years. Today’s plan once again underpins that investment – not divestment – is the path forward New York’s leaders should focus on.