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Fleeing fossil fuels

New York Teacher

Reducing the use of fossil fuels that lead to carbon pollution is one of the most important strategies for rescuing the planet. And at a time when the federal government is rolling back environmental protections, local action is imperative.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Comptroller Scott Stringer, with the UFT’s support, announced in September that New York City would double its pension investment in renewable energy and other climate change solutions by 2021 — a $4 billion investment. Earlier this year, the city announced its goal to divest city pension funds from fossil fuel companies within five years.

The New York City Teachers’ Retirement System currently invests about 1 percent of its assets in renewable energy. TRS trustees, including the UFT’s three teacher-members on the pension board, will work with the city to explore the possibility of doubling those investments while they safeguard the long-term financial health of the fund and the economic security of UFT members.

In the past, the Teachers’ Retirement System has divested from industries and activities that are not consistent with the beliefs of the majority of its members, most recently gun manufacturing.

With hurricanes and other extreme weather growing ever more frequent, the consequences of our reliance on fossil fuels are indisputable. Many of us experienced the impact firsthand six years ago during Hurricane Sandy. Since then, we’ve seen the result of extreme weather in Texas, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, North Carolina and other places around the world.

Climate change is reshaping the environment in our lifetime. Investment in green energy, like teaching, is an investment in the generations to come who will inherit the world we leave behind.

Related Topics: Pension, Editorials