New Treasury Climate Counselor Must Act Immediately to Address Climate Financial Risk and Climate Finance


July 28, 2023

Contact: Jackie Fielder, jackie@stopthemoneypipeline.com

New Treasury Climate Counselor Must Act Immediately to Address Climate Financial Risk and Climate Finance

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, members of the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition reacted to the news of Ethan Zindler’s appointment to serve as Climate Counselor to Secretary Janet Yellen and to lead the Treasury Department’s Climate Hub by emphasizing the urgency with which Zindler and all financial regulators must act to address the systemic risk of climate change to and from the US financial system, and to unlock the financing needed for the climate transition at home and abroad.

The environmental and consumer advocacy groups are putting pressure on the incoming Climate Counselor to support the Treasury to encourage banks to generate transition plans aligned with credible scientific scenarios. In April, a substantial portion of shareholders at Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase voted in support of a resolution calling on banks to generate transition plans to meet their 2030 and 2050 climate goals. The climate groups asked Treasury to issue guidance on transition plans that:

  • include a phase-out of all financing for existing fossil fuel projects and companies, as advised by the International Energy Association in 2021;

  • align to credible scientific scenarios, not just to the needs of the institution creating the plan;

  • include a complete exit from sectors such as coal mining, coal power, tar sands oil, extractive industries in the Arctic and Amazon, fracked oil and gas, offshore oil and gas, and liquified natural gas;

  • do not rely on forest offsets, unproven carbon capture and storage technologies, and removal and trade schemes to “compensate”–falsely–for a lack of emissions reductions;

  • relate not only to their own transition risks, but also to risks banks pose to the health of our planet–health necessary for the health of other financial entities and the financial system;

  • adhere to a precautionary approach to managing climate-related financial risk, as the uncertainty inherent in the effects of the climate crisis make it unsuitable for managing via risk modeling and quantification alone;

  • adopt strong, binding policies to respect Indigenous peoples’ right to sovereignty and self-determination which includes Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, an internationally recognized standard;

Groups are also urging the Treasury to facilitate the provision of climate finance at home and abroad in a way that serves the public interest. They have been critical of Treasury’s emphasis on using public funds from multilateral development banks to “de-risk” Wall Street investments in climate action, including in the Just Energy Transition Partnerships that Zindler will be responsible for continuing to lead.

Members of the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition released the following statements:

“As head of FSOC, it is Treasury’s responsibility to set the bar for U.S. regulators to take seriously and urgently the task of mitigating climate financial risk. As climate scientists ring the alarm on record water temperatures and numerous heat waves ravage the world, it is Zindler’s responsibility to chart a science-aligned path for Treasury and the international financial system which includes a managed transition away from Wall Street’s fossil fuel financing” said Jackie Fielder, co-director of Stop the Money Pipeline coalition.

“We hope Ethan Zindler will use his analytical background to fulfill Biden’s pledges on international climate finance in a way that serves the public interest, not Wall Street profits,” said Luisa Abbott Galvao, Senior International Policy Campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “This position is crucial to shifting investments away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy and green economies, but this must be done in a way that is just and effective. Treasury’s push to ‘de-risk’ private finance for climate action has no proof of concept, and plenty of proof of harm.”


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