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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New York's $226 billion pension fund has set a 2040 goal to neutralize its carbon emissions and may divest from oil and gas companies in order to achieve it, the state's comptroller announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: The proposal, from America's third-largest public pension fund, is one of the more significant moves in the divestment battle that's been building over the last several years.

Yes, but: The fund has left a lot of wiggle room and time will tell just how many oil and gas companies it actually divests from.

How it works: The fund isn't committing to divesting all its oil and gas stocks, which activists have pushed for.

  • Instead, it's increasing pressure on companies to disclose — or create — plans for how they will profit in a climate-constrained world by threatening to otherwise sell by 2025.
  • The fund is "committing to sell its investments in any oil, gas, oil-services and pipeline companies that do not have clear plans to abandon the fossil fuel business. Few companies have disclosed such plans," the New York Times writes.

Flashback: New York comptroller on Exxon, divestment and climate change

Go deeper

ServiceNow launches $100M racial equity fund

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

ServiceNow will create a $100 million racial equity fund that aims to promote more lending within Black communities.

Why it matters: It’s the latest move by corporate America to dedicate resources to fighting systemic racism and inequality.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 26, 2021 - Energy & Environment

BlackRock vows tougher climate scrutiny

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. Photo: Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images

BlackRock is calling on companies to "disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net-zero economy," per the New York Times' coverage of CEO Larry Fink's annual letter this morning.

Why it matters: BlackRock is the world's largest asset manager. And per the NYT story, they're vowing to back up their call by throwing more weight around with companies in their actively managed portfolio.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Jan 26, 2021 - Economy & Business

ESG standards go global

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

55 of the world's largest companies are allowing themselves to be compared on key environmental, social, and governance standards. The long-awaited announcement standardizes reporting on everything from anti-corruption protocols to pay equality and greenhouse gas emissions.

Why it matters: The standardized metrics are global, and — crucially — have been signed onto by all four of the big accountancy companies. Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC will ensure that all companies calculate the metrics the same way, making it possible for the first time to accurately measure companies against each other.