October 29, 2021

Ahead of COP26, thousands demand the U.S. Federal Reserve account for climate risk

At Federal Reserve and fossil banking giant branches across the U.S., communities rise up in coordination with youth-led Fossil Free Future global mobilization
In the rain outside the DC Federal Reserve building, A cutout of a person that says "Powell is a Climate Zombie," next to two people holding a banner reading "Fossil Free Federal Reserve" behind a person speaking into a megaphone wearing a Zombie costume.

Washington, DC; Photo credit: Armando Gallardo

USA — Days ahead of COP26 next week in Glasgow, and in coordination with youth-led actions for a Fossil Free Future, thousands of people rallied outside Federal Reserve branches across the country to send a clear message to President Biden: appoint a climate champion to Chair the Federal Reserve who will account for climate risk immediately.

Demands of today’s Fossil Free Federal Reserve actions and the overall campaign are:

  1. President Biden: appoint a real climate leader to Chair the Federal Reserve;
  2. Congress: expand The Fed’s mandate to eliminate racial, gender, and class disparities in jobs, wages, and wealth;
  3. The Federal Reserve:
    • END BANK FOSSIL FINANCE: Use existing regulatory and supervisory tools to begin limiting and phasing down the financing of emissions
    • DIVEST AND INVEST: Align Fed spending and asset purchases with the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C
    • PUSH BANKS TO INVEST: Encourage and support bank investment aimed at limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, with an emphasis on lending to low-income communities and communities of color.

Today’s actions for a Fossil Free Federal Reserve come a week after the U.S. Treasury Climate Risk report failed to live up to the bar of action; the day after Congress announced subpoenas of Big Oil for their climate deception following testimony in a Congressional Hearing; and following the fossil fuel divestment movement milestone of over 1400 institutions representing nearly $40 trillion in assets.

New York, NY; Photo Credit: Erik McGregor

As fossil fuel companies — backed by banks like Chase, BlackRock, and Citi, and insurers like Liberty Mutual — attempt to ram through toxic and unnecessary tar sands, oil, and gas and brazenly lie about the reality of the climate crisis, climate leaders across the U.S. are mobilizing to end these decades of planetary destruction by targeting the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, to steer our economy off high-risk fossil fuels. 

Thousands took action at Federal Reserve branches across the US, including:

Denver, CO: Photo credit: Christian O’Rourke

  • Across Texas, in San Antonio and Dallas, communities rallied at the respective Fed branches demanding Biden nominate a Federal Reserve Chair climate champion and declare a Climate Emergency, as well as urging Congress to include key in climate provisions the US budget bill framework;
  • In Chicago, IL, a speak-out and street theater in the rain with climate-spooky costumes called on the Fed and dirty-energy backers to end fossil-fuel financing, align Fed spending and asset purchases with the Paris Climate Agreement’s goals, encourage bank investment and lending in low-income and communities of color, and highlight regional fossil fuel fights like the Line 3 pipeline;
  • In Richmond, VA, 350 Charlottesville rallied near the Richmond Federal Reserve Building, gathering petition signatures demanding the Richmond Federal Reserve President, First V.P., EVP and Directors incorporate climate risk;

Chicago, IL; Photo credit: Shirley Ni

  • In Miami, FL, one of the most vulnerable areas of the continental US to climate impacts — from worsening hurricanes and rising sea levels, to ground destabilization, flooding, and extreme heat — 350 South Florida joined to demand an end to fossil fuel financing;
  • In Atlanta, GA, 350 Lambert, a group of high school students fighting for their future and the future of the planet, broadcasted the demands for a Fossil Free Fed during Atlanta’s rush hour traffic;
  • Across Missouri, in St. Louis and Kansas City, 350 STL and 350KC held rallies at the respective regional Fed branches, highlighting climate impacts and the growing multi-generational climate finance movement;

Now, organizers are turning their attention to COP26, along with President Biden’s impending nomination of the next Federal Reserve Chair. Over 40,000 people have signed a petition urging Biden to appoint a climate champion as Fed Chair.

San Francisco, CA; Photo credit: Brooke Anderson (Movement Photographer)


Brooke Harper, 350.org, said: “The Federal Reserve has a mandate to protect our economy, and steer investments away from high-risk fossil fuels. That’s why we’re taking action in coordination with a global youth-led mobilization at Fed branches across the country demanding a Fossil Free Federal Reserve. Ahead of COP26, if President Biden wants to be a real climate champion, he’ll nominate a Federal Reserve Chair — like Lael Brainard — who will take climate risk seriously.” 

Rachel Rivera, member of New York Communities for Change, said: “The Fed, Citibank and other banks must stop funding fossil fuels. My family lost everything in Sandy. We’re still hurting. On today’s anniversary, just before Glasgow, I’m here to say New Yorkers demand a better future and these Wall Street giants should do the right thing and stop torching our planet.”

Nik, they/them/sila, Program Manager & Youth Climate Organizer, 350 Bay Area, said: “October 29th — just days away from the start of COP 26 — the entire Bay Area is mobilizing to demand environmental justice. Our targets are the systems of oppression that still keep us from achieving emissions reductions, breathable air, drinkable water and land back. Institutions like the Federal Reserve, Blackrock, and the vast dirty banking system are so entrenched in our corrupt political system that protesting them is essentially protesting the status quo of US politics and policies. We demand the system change or be felled.” 

Micah Parkin, Executive Director of 350 Colorado, said: “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 “So 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.”

Lisa Glassco, Charlottesville 350, said: “The Fed needs to require banks to consider climate change risks when giving loans. Suggesting they do so is not enough.”

Sara Greenwald, 350 Bay Area, said: “We’re following the money, all the way from fossil fuel investors to the fossil fuel bank to the Fed Reserve that has the power to reroute the money pipeline to the work we need to do.”

Rita Fitzjarrell and Ken Denson, 350 STL, said: “We won’t sit back and wait for someone else to do the work. We are hitting the streets in front of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, and after our #FossilFreeFed rally, the Fed will know our demands: no more fossil fuel investments.”

Larry Coble, 350 Chicago, President of the Board of Directors, said: “In Chicago, climate justice groups are targeting institutions like the Federal Reserve and Chase bank that continue to prop up the fossil fuel industry, despite increasingly deadly climate events caused by the industry’s pollution. We’re calling on the Fed and dirty-energy backers to end fossil-fuel financing, align Fed spending and asset purchases with the Paris Climate Agreement, and encourage bank investment and lending in Black, Indigenous, and communities of color.”

Martha Barker, 350-Austin organizer of Day of Action at the San Antonio Federal Reserve Bank, said: “Texas is the 7th largest carbon emitter in the world — right after Japan and before Brazil. The fossil fuel industry makes massive contributions to their allies in the Texas legislature, preventing the urgently needed transition to renewable energy. We need the Fed to stop banks’ investing in the energy of the past and make the essential investments in the future of clean energy and in communities of color who continue to be severely damaged by fossil fuel pollution.”