On Monday, mayors of 12 cities from around the world that represent over 36 million residents, 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.
C40’s declaration, “Divesting from Fossil Fuels, Investing in a Sustainable Future,” brings together mayors of some of the world’s most influential cities, led by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio.
The declaration stated that “Now is the time to divest from fossil fuel companies and undertake investment and policy change that prioritizes public and planetary health, building back a more equal society and addressing this climate emergency.”
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.
“We’re in a make-or-break decade for the preservation of our planet and our livelihoods, and C40 Cities are leading the transition to a society and economy that don’t rely on dirty fossil fuels,” said C40 Chair and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Our declaration makes a clear statement: if we’re serious about a sustainable, just, and prosperous future, we have to put our money where our mouth is, remove public dollars from companies harming the Earth, and power our cities with bold investments in low-carbon industries.”
In 2019, Vancouver City Council passed a motion committing to responsibly divest the City and staff pensions from fossil fuels. Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said “By signing C40’s declaration, we are furthering this work, which aligns with City Council’s 2019 vote to unanimously recognize a global climate emergency and local climate crisis.”
The declaration champions fossil fuel-free, green finance. Participants say this 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.
The mayor of oil-giant Norway’s capital city also signed the declaration. Governing Mayor of Oslo, Raymond Johansen said “Together with mayors of some of the world’s most influential cities, we in Oslo are determined to lead the way in the transition to a low emission future. Oslo’s vision is to become a city that produces no greenhouse gas emissions and is climate resilient”.
By signing on to the new declaration, these mayors commit to boosting momentum for fossil-free and sustainable investment by taking possible steps to divest city assets from fossil fuel companies. Also, the mayors pledge to increase financial investments in climate solutions to help promote decent jobs and a just and green economy.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said “In London we have demonstrated that divestment is possible and indeed essential for our future.” He added “As the world recovers from COVID-19, we need to work together to ensure a fairer, fossil-fuel-free green recovery.”
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City agreed. He said “As we recover from COVID-19, we must make our cities even stronger.”
According to Energy Policy Tracker, over $200 billion in COVID-19 recovery funds are being pledged to fossil fuels, even though investments in coal, oil, and gas are key drivers of the climate emergency. The group argues that 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.
The mayors are 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. 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.
LaToya Cantrell, Mayor of New Orleans said “As a member of the Global Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force and the Mayor of a city that is at the forefront in the battle against climate change, I am proud to sign on to this pledge to divest from carbon-intensive assets.” Cantrell added “The City of New Orleans embraces clean technologies and a green future, and we are committed to leveraging our financial resources for a more equitable and sustainable economy.”
As part of the transition to a sustainable economy, Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller said “pulling out of climate-damaging and ethically problematic strategies is a key step.”
To deliver a green and just recovery, cities are committing to use their unique 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.
In a sobering note to the oil industry, the International Energy Agency predicts this year alone demand for oil will fall by 9 per cent, coal by 8 per cent, and gas by 5 per cent. At the same time, solar is expected to grow by 16 per cent and wind by 12 per cent, representing an enormous opportunity for economic growth.
The mayors argue these investment strategies have significant potential to create jobs, safeguard against climate risk, and facilitate a decisive shift to the clean energy economy.
Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees said “Bristol is actively investing in climate solutions, and by encouraging the private sector and pension funds to invest in decarbonizing our wider footprint will help to support a sustainable, values led economic recovery from Covid.”
In recent years, city leaders have pushed forward bold sustainable finance initiatives to help accelerate the clean energy transition and align investment behind resilient cities of the future.
In 2018, Mayor Khan and Mayor de Blasio established the Divest/Invest Forum, a first-of-its-kind partnership network devoted to helping urban leaders accelerate effective, efficient divestment and green investment. Earlier this year, C40 mayors also called on national governments to end public investments in fossil fuels in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The “Divesting From Fossil Fuels, Investing in a Sustainable Future” declaration has been endorsed by a broad coalition of business and labor leaders, youth activists, and civil society representatives.
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