Fossil Free Federal Reserve campaign pivoted from in-person to remote & COVID-safe actions as Symposium goes virtual, doubling down that campaign is only getting started.
USA — As global financial decision-makers, including current Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, gather virtually for this year’s Economic Policy Symposium, communities are bringing a clear demand: ahead of November’s COP26 in Glasgow, fossil fuel finance must come to an end.
“As climate impacts — from hurricanes and floods to drought and fires — devastate our communities and planet, the Federal Reserve must make it clear that they are no longer investing in the culprits of climate chaos,” said Tracey Lewis, 350.org Senior Policy Analyst. “A key mandate of the Federal Reserve is to assess and account for risks to the U.S. economy. It’s time to push the Federal Reserve to fulfill their mandate: account for climate risk and phase out fossil fuel investments.”
With the meeting going virtual due to the compound impacts of COVID-19 and wildfire smoke in Wyoming exacerbating infections, 350.org, 350 Colorado, and Sunrise Jackson Hole shifted plans from a series of creative actions to making a remote impact.
“The world’s scientists have made it abundantly clear in the recent IPCC 6th Assessment that the world must transition beyond fossil fuels rapidly – largely in the next decade, to avoid a terrible escalation of climate disasters, which are already hurting Colorado’s people and economy,” said Micah Parkin, Executive Director of 350 Colorado.
Leaders with 350 Colorado and Sunrise Jackson Hole held COVID-safe events outside the Jackson Hole Lodge and the Federal Reserve branch in Denver to make community demands heard.
“We are joining other organizations nationwide in calling on the Federal Reserve and other banking regulators and policymakers to stop financing the fossil fuel companies fueling the climate crisis,” Parkin added.
In addition to these actions, Kai Jones and Zahan Billimoria with Protect Our Winters, together with 350.org, executed a 60-foot “Stop The Money Pipeline” banner drop at the peak of the Teewinot Mountain, around where the Symposium is historically held.
As the Fossil Free Federal Reserve campaign ramps up, a slew of breaking reports show the urgency of the Fed prioritizing climate finance:
- Oil Change International reveals Central Banks are still financing climate chaos;
- Evergreen Action maps out five key steps for the next Federal Reserve Chair;
- BetterMarkets highlights Powell’s “inexplicably slow’ response to climate-related risks”; and
- Public Citizen maps out how Jerome Powell is failing on climate as Fed Chair.
Powell’s tenure ends in February, with reappointment or nomination to be solidified by January 2022. Biden is expected to make an announcement as early as Labor Day. Already, tens of thousands of people have signed a petition urging Biden to appoint a climate champion as Federal Reserve Chair, which will be delivered to the Biden administration next week.
Amidst record-breaking heat, deadly flooding, and intensifying wildfires, Powell doubled down on his climate action delay, asserting that incorporating the risks of climate change into financial systems is ‘not a top priority.’
“We must not normalize climate change! We as Native Americans, the original caretakers of this hemisphere, have been fighting for the US to transition from fossil fuels for decades to avoid massive destruction to our Mother Earth,” said Micaela Iron Shell-Dominguez 350 Metro-Denver Coordinator. “Right now, there is a continued fight in Minnesota to stop the construction of Line 3, which would contribute more to climate change than MN’s entire economy. Line 3 is a violation to treaty rights of Anishinaabe peoples and nations in its path.”
In May, Biden issued a broad-ranging Executive Order (EO) titled “Climate-Related Financial Risk,” directing Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, and Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese to develop climate finance action plans ahead of Glasgow.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, fossil fuel companies received billions under the Federal Reserve’s “Main Street” pandemic lending program, over 13 times what was loaned to renewable energy.
“We are now calling on the Federal Reserve and demanding they stop financing fossil fuel industries that are at fault for climate change and for the continued theft and destruction of Indigenous peoples and our land,” Iron Shell-Dominguez added. “Enough is enough. It’s time for our government to stand for something besides profits.”
According to Positive Money’s Global Central Bank Scorecard, the Fed got a D-, near the bottom among the G20 Central Banks, when evaluated on its comprehensive climate risk policies related to the Paris Agreement, including financial policy and leading by example.
In a supplement to the scorecard, U.S. climate and financial regulatory advocates detailed how the Federal Reserve had failed to use the powers it has to address the climate crisis.
Sunrise Jackson Hole, a local hub of the national youth led climate justice organization Sunrise Movement, has seen firsthand the unequal and climate-blind effects of Fed policy in the valley.
“The same valley who’s world-class fishing, scenic mountains, and old west character drew the Kansas City Federal Reserve Symposium here 40 years ago is feeling the interlocking crises of climate change and monetary policy that only serves the owning class with rivers too warm to fish, mountain views obscured by wildfire smoke, and restaurants and hotels catering to the the ultra-wealthy forced to close or restrict hours because of a dearth of affordable housing,” offered members of Sunrise Jackson Hole. “Sunrise Jackson Hole also calls on the Fed to expand its mandate to include eliminating the racial, gender and class disparities in jobs, wages and wealth to truly uplift all Americans in the recovery from the pandemic, and in our global recovery from the neo-liberal economic order that has failed us.”
In April, 64 environmental and financial advocacy organizations sent a letter to Chair Powell, urging him to act on climate-related risk and investment. U.S. Reps. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) spearheaded a similar letter demanding the Federal Reserve move rapidly and boldly on managing climate risks.
Despite COVID-19 and climate impacts, the Fossil Free Federal Reserve campaign is only getting started, with Powell’s Symposium remarks happening tomorrow, Friday, August 27 at 10amET.
From there, organizers have eyes set on next week’s petition delivery, the expected Fed Chair nomination over Labor Day, the September 20-21 Federal Reserve Policy meeting, the Biden administration report release ahead of COP26, and more.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
For more information on #FossilFreeFed, explore: linktr.ee/FossilFreeFed
Community Members, Policy & Finance Experts, and Protect Our Winters athletes available for interview by contacting Lindsay Meiman, [email protected].