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New York State pension fund cuts ties with 22 thermal coal companies

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New York State pension fund cuts ties with 22 thermal coal companies

New York's pension fund has joined thousands of institutions worldwide in cutting ties with coal.

In an opinion piece published July 12 on Times Union, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which he oversees, divested from 22 thermal coal mining companies that it deemed as "not prepared to thrive, or even survive, in the low-carbon economy."

The decision was made after assessing the climate-resilience and preparedness to transition to a low-carbon economy of companies in its portfolio in line with the pension fund's climate action plan, according to DiNapoli.

The comptroller announced in January that the pension fund was considering to divest from 27 thermal coal mining companies, including Peabody Energy Corp., Consol Energy Inc., Anglo American PLC, Arch Resources Inc., China Coal Energy Co. Ltd., China Shenhua Energy Co. Ltd., Coal India Ltd. and Contura Energy Inc., among others.

The New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third-largest public pension fund in the U.S with over US$200 billion in assets.

Advocacy group 350.org, along with several others, praised the decision. The group's regional organizer, Dominique Thomas, said the comptroller moved the pension fund out of "financially risky and destructive industry."

Citing the New York State Common Retirement Fund's latest disclosure, the group said in a July 15 release that the pension fund had invested over US$12 billion in companies involved in fossil fuels.

"In recent years, these investments have severely underperformed the rest of the stock market and dragged down overall performance of the fund," 350.org claimed.

The group said more than 1,240 institutions globally, with assets over US$14 trillion, have divested from fossil fuels.