New York City Divests from Fossil Fuels and Sues 5 Major Oil Companies

January 10th, 2018

Dear Mayor de Blasio and Comptroller Stringer,

It gives us enormous hope to hear the news that New York City is moving forward to freeze new investments in fossil fuel companies, and reinvest in renewable energy.

On November 5th, 2017, Pathway to Paris, a non­profit organization committed to turning the Paris Agreement into action, held an event at Carnegie Hall. Together, we united at this event with a shared vision of moving into the era of renewable energy because we deeply love our one and only planet and believe our time is now to act. Pathway to Paris announced at this event, the 1000 Cities Initiative, a bold mission to meet and go beyond the targets of the Paris Agreement. The initiative invites all cities of the world to transition off of fossil fuels and move to 100% renewable energy by 2040, in order to turn the Paris Agreement into reality. During Bill McKibben’s time on stage he asked the audience to write a letter to NY Comptroller Scott Stringer, urging him to divest New York’s pension fund from fossil fuels, resulting in 3000 letters that were then sent to him over the following weeks. This was a true moment of a diversity of beautiful voices coming together making profound change resulting in a best practice for the world. We are so grateful that you both acknowledged these letters by moving forward with this momentous action.

Thank you for responding to all of the New Yorkers who have put energy into bringing attention to this issue over the years. Your announcement of a lawsuit against five major oil companies, seeking damages for the costs of infrastructure improvements to contend with the effects of climate change is also a tremendous feat. This bold action is a best practice for other cities to follow, and we are proud that New York City is leading the way in the movement to create a climate safe and just world. We hope that Governor Cuomo will follow through with these ambitious plans for the state of New York. People indeed have the power.

With love,

Jesse Paris Smith & Rebecca Foon (Founders of Pathway to Paris), Patti Smith, Flea, Michael Stipe, Talib Kweli, Tanya Tagaq, Joan Baez, Cat Power, Tenzin Choegyal, Bill McKibben, and Vandana Shiva

Carnegie Event

On November 5th, 2017, Pathway to Paris held an event at Carnegie Hall in partnership with and United Nations Development Programme, bringing together musicians, activists, writers, politicians to share in a night of music, talks, and unifying experiences all with a shared vision of turning the Paris Agreement into reality and moving into the era of renewable energy. Among the speakers and performers was Bill McKibben, climate change leader and writer, and one of the founders of During his time onstage, he asked the audience to remove the DivestNY insert from their playbills, and use it to write a letter to NY Comptroller Scott Stringer, urging him to divest New York’s pension fund from fossil fuels. Together, New York’s pension funds are among the largest in the world, representing a combined $390 billion.

For what felt like a historic moment, Bill silently waited as the full hall read the information on the insert and wrote their letters. After the event, the audience was asked to drop the letters off in the lobby at the 350NYC table, or mail them directly. A few days later, 350 and Pathway to Paris mailed the collected letters to Scott Stringer’s office, while also sending out calls to action for anyone else in the city to send their own letters or visit DivestNY to send an email. A climate hearing with Public Advocate Tish James was scheduled, and it

was urgent that anyone available attend the hearing and make a testimony. The turnout was great, and the diversity of voices who shared their views, stories, facts, findings, solutions was absolutely incredible.
Today, January 10th, after over five years of community campaigning for New York to divest from fossil fuels, Mayor de Blasio and City Comptroller Scott Stringer confirmed the proposal to freeze all current fossil fuel investments, divest New York’s public pension funds fossil fuel companies, and reinvest in renewable energy. Bill McKibben issued the following statement: “The dam has broken: after years of great activism, New York has taken a massive step towards divesting from fossil fuels. Coming from the capital of world finance, this will resonate loud and clear all over the planet. It’s a crucial sign of how fast the financial pendulum is swinging away from fossil fuels.”

This is such a major victory and proof that grassroots activism ­­ using your voice, writing letters, speaking out, pushing for and attending hearings, working together, building the numbers, it all WORKS.

Watch Bill McKibben’s time on stage at Carnegie Hall, November 5th, 2018:

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