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New York’s $226 Billion Pension Fund Is Dropping Fossil Fuel Stocks

The plan could free up billions of dollars for potential investment in renewable energy and carbon-neutral industries; Mr. DiNapoli said it could help the fund meet its goal of increasing its investments in “climate solutions” from $11 billion to $20 billion.

Richard Brooks, a senior strategist with the climate advocacy group, welcomed the plan.

“People now understand that it’s pension funds and universities and asset managers who are all enabling this industry, propping it up and allowing it to continue to pollute in communities, cause climate change and lobby against meaningful climate action,” said Mr. Brooks, whose group was one of 40 climate advocacy and retiree organizations that waged the eight-year campaign to persuade New York institutions to shift their investments.

He added, “It’s part of a larger movement, increasingly including some banks and insurance companies, to reshape the financial industry in the U.S.”

According to DivestInvest, a group that tracks and promotes the divestment movement, 1,246 institutions and nearly 60,000 individuals have committed to shedding their investments in fossil fuels. The total combined value of their portfolios is $14.1 trillion; their fossil fuel assets are only a portion of that sum since most large institutions invest across a range of sectors.

The movement to dump fossil fuel stocks began as an effort to make an ethical statement and to cast polluters as pariahs, much like the push to divest from apartheid-era South Africa.

The Paris climate agreement, which set targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, also increased pressure on the industry. Under President Trump, the United States is no longer part of the global climate accord. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged to rejoin.

Since 2012, when Hurricane Sandy killed more than 100 people, flooded parts of Manhattan, including Wall Street, the financial center, and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, climate-related issues have gained importance in finance and politics, especially in New York.