In a move more worthy of the headline “Old Man Yells at Cloud,” NYC mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that the city is divesting its pension funds from companies associated with fossil fuels as well as filing lawsuits against major oil companies for their “role” in “climate change.”
The city is suing BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell over climate change. San Francisco and Oakland filed similar suits a few months ago. De Blasio said, “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.” Regarding the pension funds, approximately $5 billion of the city’s total $189 billion fund is currently invested in fossil fuel-related companies.
The oil companies dispute the allegations that they have willfully contributed to climate change. Indeed, it is hard to see how companies who provide a good and service which is essential to modern life can be sued for providing that good and service. NYC and others who rage against oil companies seem to want two mutually-exclusive things: (1) the benefits which oil provides (e.g. modern transportation, electricity, heating, cooling, cosmetics, plastics, etc…) and (2) oil companies not to be in the business of providing the materials which make (1) possible.
The net effect of lawsuits and divestments such as this is likely to drive up the cost of oil-based products for consumers and discourage future investment by oil companies (investments which could increase efficiency and lower emissions).
(Image: AP Photo)