De Blasio, NYC commit to doubling pension investments in 'climate change solutions'

De Blasio said 'climate change poses an existential threat' to NYC

Two major retirement funds companies in New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio are pledging to reach net-zero emissions by 2040, making the city one of the first in the nation to make such a move.  

"Climate change poses an existential threat to New York City, and we must do everything in our power to confront this crisis head on," said Mayor Bill de Blasio in his Wednesday announcement on the matter, also urging to increase investments in climate change solutions to $50 billion by 2035. 

In a Thursday vote, the two largest pension funds in the New York City Retirement Systems – Trustees of the New York City Teachers' Retirement System and the New York City Employees' Retirement System – approved the policy, Pensions & Investments reported. The former has assets of $102.2 billion, and the latter has assets of $87 billion. 

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks at the New York State Financial Control Board annual meeting, in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew / AP Newsroom)

Trustees of the New York City Board of Education Retirement System are also "expected to move forward on a vote imminently," a press release from the mayor's office states. 


The commitment includes a goal to double investments in climate change solutions, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and green real estate, to over $8 billion by 2025. It also aims to achieve a total of over $37 billion in climate solutions investments by 2035 across the three pension funds. This falls in line with achieving the Mayor’s State of the City goal of $50 billion in total pension fund investments in climate change solutions by 2035.


The environmental concerns are shared by several leaders in the Big Apple, who say the matter requires immediate action. 

"We must act now and act boldly on climate change to protect the long-term interests of our beneficiaries, the sustainability of our pension investments and the stability and growth of the global economy," New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said in the Wednesday press release. 

People take a look of the New York Skyline and the Empire State Building on Aug. 19, 2020 in Weehawken, New Jersey. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/VIEWpress via Getty Images)

"Every year, the crisis of climate change becomes more stark and immediate," Stringer continued. "Achieving net zero emissions is an imperative for investors, businesses and government to maintain economic viability as well as livable conditions on the planet. As fiduciaries, we must mitigate the tremendous systemic risk that climate change poses to our pension funds and, to do this, we must ensure our investments support limiting global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. I thank the trustees for their adopting this commitment."


Other leaders in the city noted that Hurricane Ida was evidence of how climate change has impacted the city in recent days. 

"Queens knows more than most the dramatic and devastating impacts of climate change, especially our families who are still picking up the pieces and grieving loved ones in the wake of Hurricane Ida’s historic flooding," said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr. "The actions we take as a society today will define what our city looks like tomorrow and for generations to come, and we support today’s ambitious commitment to a net zero emissions goal in our public pension funds."