Monday, January 15, 2018

Educational Presentation: Divest from Fossil Fuels? YES!



Educational Presentation


Rev. Peter Cook, Executive Director
NYS Council of Churches

Monday, January 22, 2018    7:00 PM
St. Joseph’s University Church - Community Hall
3269 Main St, Buffalo  14214 [Map]

Sponsored by the Interfaith Climate Justice Community of WNY
The NYS Council of Churches participates in the Divest NY campaign and Rev. Cook will help ICJC focus on ways that we might become involved.  The Council of Churches also advocates for the NYS Climate and Community Protection Act, legislation that would allow NYS to reach 100% renewables by 2050 or before.   

Please plan to attend this important meeting.
 Free & open to the public.

•    Governor Cuomo recently announced that he supports divesting New York’s public pension funds from fossil fuel companies. 
•    New York City and the State together plan to #DivestNY’s $390 billion pensions from fossil fuels: “an undeniable victory for the global divestment movement”

Bill McKibben, co-founder, 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.”

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Yorkers Celebrate as NYC Mayor announces Divestment from Fossil Fuels, Files Climate Lawsuit

[Click image to enlarge]
#DivestNY victory reverberates around the world as New Yorkers vow to keep up the fight for bold climate action

 January 10, 2018  |

New York, NY — Today, following over five years of persistent campaigning from New Yorkers, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the City is moving forward with full fossil fuel divestment. The city’s five pension funds, a combined $191 billion, will divest $5 billion in securities from over 100 fossil fuel reserve owners.

New York’s announcement brings the total number of global divestment commitments to 810 institutions representing more than $6 trillion in assets.

“New York City today becomes a capital of the fight against climate change on this planet. With its communities exceptionally vulnerable to a rising sea, the city is showing the spirit for which it’s famous: it’s not pretending that working with the fossil fuel companies will somehow save the day, but instead standing up to them, in the financial markets and in court,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of “Ever since Sandy, New Yorkers understand the risk, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable. Now, thanks to Mayor de Blasio and his team, the city is fighting back, and in ways that will actually matter.”

In addition to this multi-billion-dollar hard-won divestment, Mayor de Blasio announced the City is launching a lawsuit against five major oil companies, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell, and ConocoPhillips for climate damages. With New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman investigating ExxonMobil, and seven municipalities across California fighting similar damage lawsuits, this announcement adds significant momentum to the #ExxonKnew campaign to hold fossil fuel corporations accountable for the role in climate destruction.

“New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “At the same time, we’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits. As climate change continues to worsen, it’s up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient.”

Naomi Klein, author and activist, said, “Emanating from the financial capital of the world, the message of today’s historic announcement is unmistakable: investing in fossil fuel companies is a high-risk, bad bet. New York City is now leading cities and states to not only divest from fossil fuel companies but also insist that the corporations that profit from destabilizing our shared planet pay for the mess they knowingly created. As of today, the entire fossil fuel sector finds itself under a cloud of huge potential court-imposed costs, as well as the growing global momentum of investor flight. That means no matter how many oil and coal leases the Trump Administration hands out, the economics of new drilling will make less and less sense. This is very good news.”

“Today is a momentous day in the fight against corporate greed exploiting our communities and fueling climate chaos,” said Bet├ímia Coronel, US Reinvestment Coordinator, “While the oil-washed White House rolls back protections, New York City has leapt forward in modeling climate leadership. Divesting our city’s pensions from the dirtiest companies is an enormous hard-won first step; holding companies like Exxon accountable for their role in climate deception is next. Today’s announcement is a rallying signal to cities all over the world that the dawn of a fossil free world has arrived.”

This New York City announcement is sending ripples around the world, reinvigorating divestment fights from California to Japan and beyond. The San Francisco pension board is scheduled for a long-awaited divestment vote on January 24.

On January 31, the day after the State of the Union, is launching Fossil Free US, with leaders including Senator Bernie Sanders, Bill McKibben, Varshini Prakash, and Rev. Lennox Yearwood speaking at a livestreamed event in Washington D.C. to lay out the plan for the climate resistance in 2018 and beyond. is building the global grassroots climate movement that can hold our leaders accountable to science and justice. Our network extends to 188 countries. 350 uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions to oppose new coal, oil and gas projects, take money out of the companies that are heating up the planet, and build 100% clean energy solutions that work for all. 

New York City will Divest from Fossil Fuels -- Filed Lawsuit against Major Oil Companies

Empire State Building on Jan.10, 2018
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Climate Action: Mayor, Comptroller, Trustees Announce First-In-The-Nation Goal to Divest From Fossil Fuels

January 10, 2018  |

City also filing suit against five largest fossil fuel companies, seeking damages to help protect city from climate change

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and other trustees of the City’s $189 Billion pension funds today announced a goal to divest City funds from fossil fuel reserve owners within five years, which would make New York City the first major US pension plan to do so. In a first-in-the-nation step towards the goal of divestment, the Mayor and Comptroller will submit a joint resolution to pension fund trustees to begin analyzing ways to divest from fossil fuel owners in a responsible way that is fully consistent with fiduciary obligations. In total, the City’s five pension funds hold roughly $5 billion in the securities of over 190 fossil fuel companies. The City’s move is among the most significant divestment efforts in the world to date.

"New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major US city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels,” said Mayor de Blasio. “At the same time, we’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits. As climate change continues to worsen, it’s up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient.”

“This is a first-in-the-nation step to protect our future and our planet – for this generation and the next. Safeguarding the retirement of our city’s police officers, teachers, firefighters and city workers is our top priority, and we believe that their financial future is linked to the sustainability of the planet. Our announcement sends a message to the world that a brighter economy rests on being green,” Comptroller Stringer said. “It’s complex, it will take time, and there are going to be many steps. But we’re breaking new ground, and we are committed to forging a path forward while remaining laser-focused on our role as fiduciaries to the Systems and beneficiaries we serve.”

The Mayor also announced that the City has filed a lawsuit against the five largest investor-owned fossil fuel companies as measured by their contributions to global warming. The City will be seeking damages from BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell for the billions of dollars the City will spend to protect New Yorkers from the effects of climate change. This includes damages to pay for harm that we’ve already seen and damages that are necessary to address harm we expect to happen over the course of this century.

New York City’s lawsuit seeks to recover the billions needed to fund climate change resiliency measures that the City needs to implement to protect the City, its property, and its residents from the ongoing and increasingly severe impacts of climate change. This includes physical infrastructure, like coastal protections, upgraded water and sewer infrastructure, and heat mitigation, but also public health campaigns, for example to help protect residents from the effects of extreme heat. To recover from past harm and prepare for future events, New York City is already executing an over $20 billion resiliency program to protect New Yorkers and build resilience against rising seas, more powerful storms, and hotter temperatures.

Recently uncovered documents make it clear that the fossil fuel industry was well aware of the effects that burning fossil fuels would have on the planet’s atmosphere and the expected impacts of climate change as far back as at least the 1980s. Nonetheless, they deliberately engaged in a campaign of deception and denial about global warming and its impacts, even while profiting from the sale of fossil fuels and protecting their own assets from the effects of rising seas and a changing climate. More than half of the greenhouse gas pollution from the fossil fuel industry has occurred since 1988, according to a recent analysis. Sea levels have risen about one foot since 1900 with much of that rise due to climate change, the most powerful storms are becoming more frequent, and flooding is becoming more frequent and intense.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Governor Cuomo's 2018 Climate Announcements Fall Short, says NY Renews Coalition

January 3, 2018  | NY Renews   

In his 2018 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo announced several significant climate-related initiatives – but fell short of supporting a comprehensive and equitable plan to hold polluters accountable and move New York State to 100% renewable energy on a timeline commensurate with the urgency of the crisis. 

“The Governor has moved New York from a walk to a jog on climate, but what we need is an all-out sprint,” said Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Deputy Director of PUSH Buffalo, a member of NY Renews.

The Governor’s support for congestion pricing, the augmented emphasis on offshore wind and energy efficiency, and the inclusion of equity concerns in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), all represent real progress and warrant sincere praise. But with an issue as grave as climate change, we do not have the luxury of mistaking positive steps for truly sufficient policies.

The Governor should have taken the opportunity to support a comprehensive legislation package that reorients all sectors of the economy and governance to creating a 100% renewable future and holding corporate polluters accountable for the damage they cause to New Yorkers’ health and well-being. The legislative platform proposed by the NY Renews coalition embodies those goals, through the Climate and Community Protection Act (S6617A/A8270A) and a soon-to-be-released proposal for massive investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy, underwritten by a corporate polluter fee.

“With climate change doing real damage to communities of color from Houston to Puerto Rico, this is a historic moment that requires more than incremental steps. Ultimately, Cuomo’s legacy will be judged in jobs created, disasters averted, and the urgency and equity of his climate vision,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, a member of NY Renews.

A study from the University of Massachusetts found that putting a modest $35/ton fee on corporate polluters’ emissions would generate over $7B and 150,000 new jobs for New York every year. That revenue could be invested in building clean energy infrastructure, improving mass transit, supporting fossil fuel industry workers, sustaining communities burdened by climate change, and more. It’s a simple, common sense approach to fighting the climate crisis: price pollution, and fund solutions. In his general embrace of congestion pricing for NYC, he’s already demonstrated a willingness to do just that, albeit on a small scale. To truly lead the just transition our communities so desperately need, he will need to think bigger in 2018 and enact a fee for all emissions from corporate polluters, not just those coming out of tailpipes in lower Manhattan.

Governor Cuomo still has an opportunity to include the Climate and Community Protection Act and a corporate polluter fee in his executive budget in the next few weeks, which would help ensure their passage into law.

NY Renews is a state-wide coalition of over 100 groups: labor unions, community groups, environmental organizations, faith communities, environmental justice advocates and more. We find inspiration in our diversity of perspectives, and strength in our breadth of expertise. 
Join us at

Jan. 9, 2018: Cuomo has to do more to tackle climate crisis. By Clarke Gocker, PUSH Buffalo, Director of Policy & Strategy. Letter in The Buffalo News

Jan. 10, 2018: State needs to expand clean, renewable energy. By Ellen Banks, Sierra Club Niagara Group, Chair of Climate & Energy Committee. Letter in The Buffalo News

Governor Cuomo's Proposal for New York's Clean Energy Jobs and Climate Agenda

On January 2, 2018, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released the 20th proposal of the 2018 State of the State: a comprehensive agenda to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and growing the clean energy economy. 

As stated in Cuomo's proposal, by further strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and welcoming new state members, New York will continue its progress in slashing emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants. In addition, unprecedented commitments announced today to advance clean energy technologies, including offshore wind, solar, energy storage and energy efficiency, will spur market development and create jobs across the state.

"New Yorkers know too well the devastation caused by climate change, and in order to slow the effects of extreme weather and build our communities to be stronger and more resilient, we must make significant investments in renewable energy," Governor Cuomo said. "With this proposal, New York is taking bold action to fight climate change and protect our environment, while supporting and growing 21st century jobs in these cutting-edge renewable industries."

Below are highlights listed in Gov. Cuomo's proposal:

  • Expand Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Reduce Emissions Equitably From the Highest-Polluting, High Demand "Peaker" Power Plants
  • Issue Solicitations in 2018 and 2019 to Develop at Least 800 MW of Offshore Wind Projects and Foster Offshore Wind Industry and Workforce in New York State
  • $200 Million Investment to Meet Unprecedented Energy Storage Target of 1,500 Megawatts by 2025 In Order to Increase Transmission of Clean and Renewable Energy
  • Create the Zero Cost Solar for All Program for 10,000 Low-Income New Yorkers
  • Reconvene Scientific Advisory Committee on Climate Change Disbanded by the Federal Government
  • Governor Directs the Establishment of Energy Efficiency Target by Earth Day
  • Regulations to Close all Coal Plants to be Adopted
The full text of the Governor's proposal is here.

For reactions to the Governor's proposal by NY Renews, a state-wide climate & energy coalition, and by local groups, click here

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Economic Inequality: Beware Plutocrats, the Pitchforks are Coming! TED Talk by a fellow Plutocrat

"Beware, fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming"

TED Talk by Nick Hanauer 

Nick Hanauer is a rich guy, an unrepentant capitalist — and he has something to say to his fellow plutocrats: Wake up! Growing inequality is about to push our societies into conditions resembling pre-revolutionary France. 


 Hear his argument about why a dramatic increase in minimum wage could grow the middle class, deliver economic prosperity ... and prevent a revolution.  


TED - Ideas Worth Spreading

Link to the Transcript is HERE.