New York City is putting its money where its mouth is in a fight against "greed"-driven fossil fuel companies. In a move that the New York Times describes as designed to give Mayor Bill de Blasio chops as a climate-change leader (and one made in front of a sign that spelled that out, reading "NYC: Leading the Fight Against Climate Change"), the city on Wednesday announced two big steps it will take against oil: It plans to divest $5 billion from fossil fuel-related companies that are part of the city's $189 billion pension funds over the next five years and sue five big oil players. The suit, which de Blasio likened to those against tobacco, accuses BP, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell of hiding their own research on the climate change-inducing effects of fossil fuels, leaving the city to pick up a tab in the billions of dollars for the ensuing aftermath.
He wants those companies to be on the hook for the billions the city has spent on disasters like Hurricane Sandy—and will spend in the future. "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," he said, per the Guardian. The paper notes neither move is novel: Several cities and counties in California have filed suit against fossil fuel companies on the same grounds, and cities like Washington, DC, and Cape Town and universities like Stanford and Oxford have also divested. Exxon Mobil's take on the move: "Reducing greenhouse gas emissions ... requires global participation and actions. Lawsuits of this kind ... simply do not do that." (Meanwhile, an abrupt about-face on drilling off Florida.)