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NYC pension leaders urge fossil fuel lending curbs, late boost for activists -Breaking


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Extinction Rebellion activists demonstrate at the John Wilson district building in Washington to protest the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure. April 22, 2022, U.S. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

By Ross Kerber

(Reuters) – New York City’s pension officials said that the $262 billion system would favor strict limits on fossil fuel loans at banks. This week, this was a boost for activists who had received little support from proxy advisors.

How investors weigh rising energy prices against climate concerns and Republican criticisms of Wall Street’s support of environmentalism will be revealed by the outcome of closely-watched shareholder resolutions.

Brad Lander, staff for New York City Comptroller stated that the main city pension funds will support resolutions at Tuesday’s shareholder meetings of Bank of America. (NYSE:). Citigroup (NYSE: Wells Fargo (NYSE:) & Co effectively calling for no new oil or gas lending.

Michael Garland, assistant comptroller, said that climate change presents a systemic risk for the funds. He also stated that there was no plausible path to Net Zero in 2050 unless new fossil fuel supplies are eliminated.

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Bank of America spokeswoman said that the securities filing called this proposal redundant because of other measures it had taken, including financing for low-carbon sources of energy.

Citi Representative said that it will not comment beyond the arguments contained in the proxy, which was against the measure. This is because the bank’s primary focus is helping clients to transition to lower carbon emissions.

Representatives of Wells Fargo, who have made similar arguments in the past, didn’t respond to request for comment.

Climate-focused investors such as the Sierra Club Foundation will benefit from support from America’s fourth-largest public retirement system.

Garland indicated that trustees representing New York City firefighter and police pension funds totaling $70billion will vote “against” the measures. Police and firefighters pension officers have not sold fossil fuel stocks, which could be affected by the lending limit. This is in contrast to other city funds.

In their reports to investors, top proxy advisors recommended voting against resolutions at large banks. Institutional Shareholder Services pointed out that Citigroup had taken measures to prohibit the funding of Arctic drilling.