Ahead of COP26, Six Additional Cities Pledge to Divest From Fossil Fuel Companies and Invest in Climate Solutions

This article was originally published by C40 Cities on October 26, 2021.

(26 October 2021) –– Today, C40 Cities announced that six cities – Auckland, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Seattle – have committed to divest from fossil fuel companies and increase investments to build more just and sustainable cities.

Today’s announcement raises the number of cities committed to C40’s “Divesting from Fossil Fuels, Investing in a Sustainable Future” pledge to eighteen, with six cities: Auckland, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Seattle, joining London, New York City, Berlin, Bristol, Cape Town, Durban, Los Angeles, Milan, New Orleans, Oslo, Pittsburgh and Vancouver. Together these cities ​​represent over 50 million people and over 400 billion USD in assets under management.

By signing on to the declaration, the six cities pledge to use their financial might to promote a just and clean energy transition through concrete actions at the city, national and international levels. This includes championing fossil-free fuel and deploying green finance to build equitable and sustainable urban economies and increase resilience against future crises.

C40’s declaration, “Divesting from Fossil Fuels, Investing in a Sustainable Future” is led by Mayor of London and C40 Chair-elect Sadiq Khan and Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, and brings together mayors of some of the world’s most influential cities with the commitment to securing a healthier, greener, and more equitable futures for their residents.

This announcement comes at a pivotal moment, as national and local leaders, scientists, environmentalists, and youth activists prepare to converge in Glasgow, Scotland for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26), where discussions on accelerating the clean energy transition will take center stage.

Cities signing on to the new declaration commit 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.
  • 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.

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 unique influence to drive high-return investments in the green economy, which are already estimated to yield average returns of 6.9% per year for sustainable funds, as opposed to 6.3% 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.

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 is a critical next step towards realizing the vision for a Global Green New Deal, announced October 2019 at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. Endorsed by a broad coalition of business and labor leaders, youth activists, and civil society representatives, the Global Green New Deal reaffirms a commitment to protecting the environment, strengthening the economy, and building more equitable communities through inclusive climate action.

Chair-elect of C40 Cities and Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “As chair-elect of C40 Cities I am delighted to announce a further six cities committing to fossil fuel divestment by joining the C40 Divest/Invest Forum. When I was first elected Mayor in 2016, I made a commitment to end institutional investment in companies that extract fossil fuels and contribute directly to climate change. It is great to have Rio, Glasgow, Paris, Copenhagen, Seattle, and Auckland join the existing 12 cities who’ve already made the commitment, meaning the total network now represents over $400bn USD in assets under management.

“Cities are at the forefront of tackling the climate emergency and there is real momentum to move investments away from fossil fuels and towards climate solutions. I will continue to encourage more cities to join the movement, and urge national governments and private finance institutions to mobilise more finance to invest directly in cities to support a green and fair recovery.”

Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio said: “By coming together on the local level to accelerate a sustainable economy, cities around the world are leading the way in the fight against climate change. Today’s announcement shows how mayors from every corner of the globe can commit to creating a green economy, holding fossil fuel companies accountable, and building a just future for humankind. This is how we fight back against global warming.”

Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes said: “In the vein of COP26, C40’s divest/invest declaration aims at one of the most pressing bottlenecks for global climate action: finance. More than chasing green investments, Rio is committed to pushing financial markets in the right direction: climate justice powered by green finance.”

Glasgow City Treasurer, Councillor Ricky Bell said: “I’m delighted, on behalf of Glasgow, host city of COP26, to have signed the C40 Divestment Declaration. As a city, and home to one of the UK’s biggest pension funds, we’ve already put the fossil fuels companies on notice that it’s change or be dropped. Standing shoulder to shoulder with our peers across the planet to shift from high carbon investments and put our money where our mouth is by championing investments in the green economy – it’s good news for our funds and good news for our climate.

“Fossil fuels are already plummeting in popularity as investment propositions. Increasing sustainable investments is an effective way of not only protecting our assets from climate-related risks but also about creating jobs and opportunities in the green economy. We’re helping build that road to decarbonisation, forcing the big oil and gas firms to reform.

“C40 network has been a key partner for Glasgow on the Road to COP26. It’s given us a platform to collaborate and engage with our urban peers on solutions to the Climate Emergency. The market alone won’t deliver for our planet. But cities like ours, and networks like C40, can apply that pressure for change.”

Mayor of Seattle Jenny Durkan said: “Across the world, we are all feeling the impacts of climate change. We must work together to accelerate divestment from polluting fossil fuels and transition to a clean and just energy future. Seattle is taking all possible steps, including beginning the process to divest the City’s retirement funds from fossil fuels and increase investments in climate solutions that promote well-paying jobs and a just and green economy. It is clear that fossil fuels are a risky and shortsighted investment. Seattle is proud to join Auckland, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Paris, Rio de Janeiro as one of six new signatories to the C40 Divesting From Fossil Fuels, Investing in a Sustainable Future declaration. Together, Cities across the world can divest from fossil fuels as a key strategy to equitably rebuild our economy and increase resilience against future climate crises”.

Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff says while Auckland Council already adheres to a Responsible Investment Policy and does not have any fossil fuel investments, the declaration reiterates its commitment to a zero-carbon future and creates further impetus for action on climate change.

“In responding to this declaration, Auckland Council is committing to tangible actions, including increasing our financial investments in climate solutions. Last year, for example, the vast majority of the council’s own borrowing was through green bonds, where funding raised is used for environmentally sustainable projects. “These commitments will add to the $152 million of new spending on climate initiatives in last year’s Recovery Budget, as well as the huge amount of work underway across the Council Group to decarbonise our infrastructure and make it more resilient to the impacts of climate change.”

Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities said: “Leaders of C40 cities know that divesting away from fossil fuels and making green, sustainable investments is no longer a choice if the world is to avoid climate breakdown. These six new cities committing to divest from the industries responsible for the climate emergency, and invest in climate solutions to support decent jobs and a green and just economy, are sending an important market signal ahead of COP26. World leaders, city and local governments, businesses and organisations everywhere need to follow suit and put their money where their mouth is. We must divest from fossil fuels, and invest in the future we want for humanity and the planet.”

Read the original article HERE.