Jersey City councilman calls for a ban on fossil fuels investments

Councilman James Solomon
Councilman James Solomon

Jersey City Ward E Councilmember James Solomon will present a resolution calling on local and state pension boards to ban future investments in fossil fuels

The resolution, scheduled to be put before the council on April 28 at 6 p.m., calls for the New Jersey State Legislature, the New Jersey State Investment Council, and the Pension Committee for the Employees’ Retirement System of Jersey City to divest from current fossil fuel investments.

 “As a state and a city that knows climate change’s ravages firsthand, New Jersey and Jersey City should be leaders on fossil fuel divestment,” said Solomon. “The time for half measures on climate is over. The state should sell their current investments in fossil fuels. Rules should be established to prevent any future investment in corporations that poison the earth.”

Solomon partnered with DivestNJ on the proposed resolution.

“Fossil fuel investments threaten the profitability of the New Jersey State Pension Fund and increasingly threaten the very existence of humanity,” said Divest NJ CoChair Tina Weishaus. “The best institutional investors today state that climate risk is investment risk. We need the State Pension Fund to be preparing to move into a low carbon global economy and say good-bye to fossil fuel investments for the health of our pension and the health of our planet.”

Jersey City’s Environmental Commission (JCEC) endorsed the resolution.

“The JCEC also strongly supports the recommendations made to the State Investment Council and the Division of Investment, which oversees PERS. As stated in the resolution, the Municipal Council urges the aforementioned entities to commit to a Climate Action Plan that includes the divestment of all fossil fuel investment as soon as possible,” said JCEC.  “The continued burning of fossil fuels will affect air pollution, food production, and the emergence and spread of human infectious diseases.”

According to the councilman’s press release, an initial analysis of investments in Jersey City’s current pension fund reveals investments in fossil fuels only through “index funds” that invest in all stocks within a given market, but both New Jersey and Jersey City’s funds require a full asset allocation analysis to understand the funds’ true exposure to fossil fuels.

Neither fund has rules in place to prevent future investments in fossil fuels, but those rules could be established by state legislation or action by the New Jersey State Investment Council.