New York City’s iconic Empire State Building glowed green Wednesday night following two “watershed” announcements—that the city would seek to divest its pension funds from fossil fuel investments, and that it filed suit against five oil giants for contributing to climate change.
“The Empire State Building is shining green tonight because it’s time to put our planet first. #DivestNY,” Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Wednesday.
350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, a major campaigner in the global divestment movement, remarked in a tweet about the green lighting, “Just this once I think it’s worth the carbon!”
The Belgium-based European Green Party also chimed in and advocated for European leaders to follow the Big Apple’s footsteps.
“Let’s join #DivestNY and #DivestEurope for a Green and sustainable future for us and generations to come,” the party said on social media.
The divestment movement has grown in the U.S. and around the world. In November, Norway proposed to sell off all of its shares (about $35 billion) in oil and natural gas holdings.
Mayor de Blasio and Comptroller Scott Stringer said they intend to divest New York City’s $5 billion in securities of over 190 fossil fuel companies.
New York’s lawsuit, filed in federal court, names BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell as defendants. The city seeks billions of dollars in damages and alleges the fossil fuel industry knew for decades that burning fuels drives global warming.
Environmentalists cheered the city’s historic announcement.
“Today was an incredible day,” author and investigative journalist Naomi Klein tweeted. “Hearing the mayor of the biggest city in the richest country on earth announce a lawsuit against 5 oil majors for climate damages AND fossil fuel divestment? Wow. We needed this. We will build on it.”