San Francisco will have an opportunity today to divest its $23 billion pension portfolio from fossil fuel holdings, following the steps of New York City, which announced last week it will shed more than $5 billion in fossil fuel assets from its own pension. (Courtesy photos)

San Francisco will have an opportunity today to divest its $23 billion pension portfolio from fossil fuel holdings, following the steps of New York City, which announced last week it will shed more than $5 billion in fossil fuel assets from its own pension. (Courtesy photos)

From San Francisco to New York, the time to divest from fossil fuels is now

Our two cities may be 2,900 miles apart, but our people are united in their determination to fight climate change. We’ve seen firsthand the destruction and dislocation brought on by a new reality of dramatic and dangerous weather.

Hurricane Sandy struck New York in October 2012, claiming 44 lives and wreaking $19 billion in damage from fire and flood. San Francisco emerged last year from an extended drought only to face historic levels of heat and catastrophic wildfires. The message our climate is sending us could not be more clear: We are in the fight of our lives.

SEE RELATED: Fossil fuels are toxic assets

Both San Francisco and New York are taking bold, sweeping action to reduce emissions, make our infrastructure more resilient and improve the health of our people. We are also leading the charge against those who continue to deny the existence of climate change. In particular, the absence of leadership in the White House demands that cities step in and do what needs to be done.

Last week, New York, the largest city in America, announced its plan to shed more than $5 billion in fossil fuel assets from its $189 billion pension portfolio. New York is the first major U.S. city or state to take this action, building on our bold climate leadership, including commitments to meet the stretch goals of the Paris climate agreement and limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius.

Today, the San Francisco Retirement Board is poised to make history. The board is expected to vote to begin divesting its $23 billion San Francisco pension portfolio from fossil fuel holdings — starting with the riskiest and most-polluting assets, and replacing them with investments in cleaner technologies. San Francisco’s aggressive sustainability goals have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent, and The City is poised to meet its 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2030, making the decision to divest from fossil fuels consistent with its other environmental measures.
   
This is the best action for our planet and it is the best action for our pensioners. As investments and as an energy source, fossil fuels have nowhere to go but down. Our wisest long-term investment is not in the dirty polluting fossil fuels from the past, but in the clean energy of the future.

As leaders of our two great American cities, we proudly stand together to support any entity looking to divest from fossil fuels and hope the urgent action our people are taking will inspire cities and towns and investment funds of all sizes to invest in the future of our planet.

This is an opportunity to make history the San Francisco Retirement Board should seize. Where we go, others will follow.

London Breed is president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Bill de Blasio is mayor of New York City.

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