Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal agenda is now governing the future of city pension funds, Mayor Bill de Blasio and city Comptroller Scott Stringer announced Thursday.
Self-described socialist AOC was on hand at City Hall Thursday as the city politicians, each with less than three months left in office, handed her a metaphorical $8 billion check — detailing their commitment of the Big Apple’s pension investments to green initiatives.
The $8 billion through 2025 amounts to a down payment toward a previously stated commitment by de Blasio for $50 billion in pensions funds invested in green-minded companies.
“I want to give credit where credit is due. It took vision and it took an incredible sense of what is possible and how to push the spectrum and reset our imaginations and we got that from a great leader,” de Blasio said during his daily press briefing, before introducing AOC, who joined Hizzoner on the dais amid negotiations on President Biden’s spending bill.
“Thank you so much for changing people’s minds, and resetting the entire sense of the possible with the Green New Deal. It is extraordinary,” the far-left Bronx-Queens Democrat said.
“What you did changed debate in this country permanently and that’s one of the highest callings I can imagine, to help people see a new reality,” Ocasio-Cortez gushed.
The mayor and comptroller on Thursday morning detailed a plan for three city pension funds to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in their investment portfolios by 2040.
The blueprint includes a goal to double investments in renewable energy and “green real estate” to over $8 billion by 2025 and invest more than $37 billion in “climate solutions investments” by 2035, according to the mayor’s office.
“Now New York City becomes the first in the nation to commit to net zero emissions in our pensions fund investments. This is revolutionary,” said the mayor. “This is a very big deal.”
“As we struggled through the years to do divestment and green investment, there was a sea change with the Green New Deal and when that came forward, it opened the door for discourse, for discussion,” said Stringer, thanking the “leadership nationally” of AOC, who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx.
“I just wanted to thank you on behalf of everyone in the city,” he added. “I don’t think we would be here today if you did not walk into the capital and say, ‘We are going to change this.’”
“Today’s announcement I think really show that a lot of the action — and, I would argue — the bulk of climate action in this country is not happening in Washington; it’s happening in New York City and it’s happening at state and local levels across the country,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “What today’s announcement really indicates is a next level in our ability to combat the climate crisis, and that is essentially a full divestment from our public pension funds.”
While the city officials assigned generous credit to the left-wing member of Congress with climate-friendly investments, she appeared not to be familiar with some of the particulars of the pension fund maneuver.
“In New York City alone, this divestment can amount to over $50 billion, is that right?” she said tentatively.
De Blasio clarified, “$50 billion in investment in renewables.”
Ocasio-Cortez went on, “And having that shift, divesting from fossil fuels and then investing in renewable energy and to climate infrastructure is exactly what we need to be doing in this moment in order to tackle the climate crisis.”
The announcement comes after in January Stringer and de Blasio celebrated their move to divest $4 billion in investments over five years, amounting to about 2 percent of their $250 billion in assets. That followed a 2018 mayor and comptroller joint announcement of a goal of doubling the city’s pension funds’ investments in climate solutions from 1 percent to 2 percent, or about $4 billion within three years.
City Hall defines fossil fuel companies as oil, gas, coal or tar sands in the ground, according to John Adler, director of the Mayor’s Office of Pensions and Investments.
Additional reporting by Morgan Grenz