Advocates and state lawmakers on Tuesday called for the divestment of the state teachers' retirement system from companies that have coal reserves as an effort to combat climate change through pension funds continues to build in New York. 

The group Divest NY in a new report found the teachers' pension system has more than $300 million in coal investments, totaling stock in 36 companies in the Carbon Underground Coal 100 List. The teachers' retirement system carries significant leverage with more than $120 billion in assets. 

The report comes as Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has signaled plans to divest the state pension fund over the coming years from companies that directly contribute to climate change. All told, DiNapoli has divested the teachers' retirement system from 22 companies.

“As a recent public school teacher, I can tell you just how devastating it is to work so hard every day to protect our community’s future and its children, only to have your pension invested in an industry that’s actively harming that future and those children," said Sen. Jabari Brisport, the lead sponsor of a proposed divestment bill in the state Senate. "The fact that coal is also such a financially risky investment of already under-paid teachers’ pensions adds more insult to injury.” 

The bill as backed by lawmakers would divest the teachers' retirement system from the coal companies with a year and from all fossil fuel companies within 2 years. 

"In a time of rapidly increasing global temperatures reaching levels that can lead to runaway climate change, we are all being called on to play a role in reducing our collective greenhouse gas production," said Assemblywoman Anna Kelles, a Democrat who sponsors the bill in her chamber. "Continuing to invest in oil and gas companies and companies that are based on significant coal production and consumption no longer makes fiscal sense and puts the future of our youth at stake."