Cities pledge to divest from fossil fuel companies

London and Bristol are among 12 cities, representing over 36m residents, to have pledged to divest from fossil fuel companies and advocate for greater sustainable investment, as part of their commitment to accelerating a green and just recovery from COVID-19.

The C40 group of cities’ declaration, “Divesting from Fossil Fuels, Investing in a Sustainable Future,” states that:“Now is the time to divest from fossil fuel companies and undertake investment and policy change that prioritises public and planetary health, building back a more equal society and addressing this climate emergency.”

The declaration champions fossil fuel-free, green finance as a key strategy for rebuilding equitable, sustainable urban economies and increasing resilience against future crises. Signatories pledge to use their financial might to promote a just and clean energy transition through concrete actions at the city, national and international levels.

Cities signing on to the new declaration have committed to build momentum for fossil-free and sustainable investment by:

• taking all possible steps to divest city assets from fossil fuel companies and increasing financial investments in climate solutions to help promote decent jobs and a just and green economy;

• calling on pension funds to divest from fossil fuel companies and increasing financial investments in climate solutions to help promote decent jobs and a just and green economy; and

• advocating for fossil-free and sustainable finance by other investors and all levels of government, including by promoting the importance of strong, long-term climate policies and demanding greater transparency.

Signatories, unveiled at a virtual Climate Week NYC event, include:Berlin, Bristol, Cape Town, Durban, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver. According to Energy Policy Tracker, more than $200bn in COVID-19 recovery funds are being pledged to fossil fuels, though risky investments in coal, oil, and gas are key drivers of the climate emergency. Continued investment in fossil fuels drives emissions that endanger the Paris Agreement goals, jeopardize efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C, and threaten to lock dangerous carbon emissions into economies, especially as governments determine preferred pathways to a COVID-19 recovery.

To deliver a green and just recovery, cities are committing to use their influence to drive high-return investments in the green economy, which are already estimated to yield average returns of 6.9 per cent per year for sustainable funds, as opposed to 6.3 per cent per year for traditionally invested funds. Mayors recognize that these forward-thinking investment strategies have significant potential to create jobs, safeguard against climate risk, and facilitate a decisive shift to the clean energy economy. This year alone, the International Energy Agency predicts demand for oil will fall by 9 per cent, coal by 8 per cent, and gas by 5 per cent, while solar is expected to grow by 16 per cent and wind by 12 per cent, representing an enormous opportunity for economic growth.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “The climate emergency remains one of the biggest threats we face. Citizens around the world are demanding action and it’s time for cities to ditch fossil fuel investments and accelerate green investments that drive low carbon jobs. In London we have demonstrated that divestment is possible and indeed essential for our future. Through our work with New York and C40, I’m delighted to bring together 10 more cities to join us in taking Divest/Invest action. Global collaboration will help us shift away from fossil fuels, confront challenges and drive climate action. As the world recovers from COVID-19, we need to work together to ensure a fairer, fossil-fuel-free green recovery.”

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