A Biden Administration Can Pressure Wall Street to Stop Funding Climate Destruction

A Biden presidency and potentially divided Congress will increase the focus on the need for Wall Street to act on climate  

Washington, D.C. — Vice President Joe Biden’s imminent victory in the Presidential election will increase pressure on financial institutions to stop financing fossil fuels and deforestation, according to groups with Stop the Money Pipeline, a coalition of over 130 organizations working to end the financing of climate destruction. 

“The American people just voted for a plan to tackle the climate crisis and an economy that benefits everyone, not just billionaires and corporate executives. That’s a mandate that extends from Washington to Wall Street,” said Amy Gray, co-coordinator of the Stop the Money Pipeline Coalition. “With Trump out of the White House, there is no more cover for financial institutions to continue funding climate destruction.” 

With the new administration’s commitment to climate action, Wall Street’s ongoing financing of fossil fuels and deforestation, along with their lack of respect for Indigenous sovereignty and human rights, will be increasingly at odds with the policies coming out of Washington and supported by the vast majority of the American people. The promise of new climate regulations also makes ongoing fossil fuel projects, like the Keystone XL, Line 3, and Dakota Access Pipeline, even riskier investments. 

“Democrats asked us to see them as champions of climate justice, it’s time to see action instead of words. Human survival isn’t a talking point, it’s reality,” said Tara Houska, tribal attorney and founder of Giniw Collective, “I hope Biden-Harris puts environmentalists in charge of protecting the environment, regulates the financiers funding disaster, and stops backing a dying industry that threatens to kill us all in its demise.” 

If Republicans maintain control of the Senate and Democrats are unable to pass sweeping climate legislation, the pressure to drive action on Wall Street will only grow as climate activists and Biden officials look for ways to drive money out of fossil fuels and into a just, clean energy economy. According to experts, a Biden administration could “remake the financial system” and combat the climate crisis without passing any new laws, effectively bypassing Republican opposition in the Senate. 

“The US has dithered on climate for too long,” said Paddy McCully, Climate and Energy Program Director with Rainforest Action Network. “The clear mandate of the Biden Administration in this vital historical moment on climate is to start day one on a crisis footing, beginning with a firm commitment to oppose any new fossil fuel projects including the Keystone XL and Line 3 pipelines. Personnel is policy, so Biden must appoint people across his Administration, and especially to financial and energy positions, who will prioritize tackling the climate crisis, including a Treasury Secretary who will prioritize fighting climate change with all the tools she has available.”

Groups with Stop the Money Pipeline are already advocating the new administration to start regulating Wall Street’s ongoing financing of climate destruction. That includes using existing regulations like Dodd-Frank to crack down on risky climate investments, as well as appointing a true climate hawk as Treasury Secretary. 

“Biden closed his campaign with a clear rallying cry for climate action. We expect his financial regulatory agency appointees to live up to those promises starting on day one, by using existing regulatory powers to address the climate risk causes by the financial industry’s continued investment in the very industries driving climate change — fossil fuels and deforestation-risk commodities — as well as the harm that those investments have caused to frontline communities,” said Moira Birss, Climate & Finance Director at Amazon Watch and co-coordinator of STMP’s policy working group.

“With Biden’s win, we just hopped a bullet train to a renewable energy future. Fossil fuels are getting left in the dust and it’s time for every pension fund, private and central bank, insurance company, and asset manager to get on board the climate express. As the nation rallies together to build a just recovery centered around racial justice, Wall Street has a responsibility to help with this effort. That means stopping all investments in fossil fuels and prioritizing racial, economic, and climate justice,” said Emily Southard, US Campaign Manager for 350.org 

In the meantime, while Trump is still in office, Stop the Money Pipeline will be keeping a close eye on financial institutions to make sure that they aren’t facilitating a final drilling, mining, and building spree by the fossil fuel industry. 

After a Presidential campaign that saw climate emerge as a key issue, as well as bold plans put forward to address Wall Street’s role in funding the crisis, activists with Stop the Money Pipeline  are approaching the challenges ahead with new wind in their sails. 

“As young people, we realize how capable we are in advocating for change. In recognizing our influence, we know how necessary it is that we remain consistent in our words and actions. We saw historic youth voter turnout this election, and it indicates the power of our vote and the Biden Administration’s obligation to stand behind the values our generation upholds. The movement isn’t going to rest, and the world will continue to see young people holding political officials accountable to their promises for decades to come,” said Simone Johnson, Project Manager at the Future Coalition. 

“This election cycle youth and the climate justice movement mobilized to the polls to vote for the world they want to see. We will continue to mobilize, take to the streets, and put pressure on our elected officials to hold to their word to create policy that puts people over profit, supports a fair and equitable future for all citizens, and enacts a swift and comprehensive climate recovery plan. We will not settle for less,” said Kellie Berns, National Program Director at Earth Guardians. 


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