FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug 3, 2021
Contact: Jackie Fielder, [email protected]
Stop the Money Pipeline Responds to Senators’ Letter to Head of Treasury’s New Climate Hub
Today, members of the Stop the Money Pipeline (STMP) coalition reacted to a letter sent by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to John Morton – the first Climate Counselor at the new Climate Hub at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The letter asks for a progress report on the Treasury’s mandate outlined in President Biden’s Executive Order (EO) on Climate-Related Financial Risk and requests a response from Morton by August 16, 2021.
The EO issued in May mandated the Treasury Secretary, as the chair of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), to engage with FSOC members and “[issue] a report to the President within 180 days of the date of this order on any efforts by FSOC member agencies to integrate consideration of climate-related financial risk in their policies and programs.” November 16, 2021 marks 180 days from the release date of the EO, which lands just several days after the conclusion of the Glasgow climate talks.
In February 2021, 147 member orgs of the STMP coalition sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen outlining key expectations for the climate hub leader. When Secretary Yellen appointed Morton to the role in April, some members of the STMP coalition released statements of concern, noting his lack of financial regulatory experience, and urging him to act immediately to develop an ambitious plan to protect our economy from risky fossil fuel investments.
The Treasury has left positions vacant that are critical to delivering on the Executive Order’s mandate, including the positions of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability and Comptroller of the Currency. As well, Trump appointees remain in the roles of Independent FSOC Member with Insurance Expertise and the Director of the Office of Financial Research. Both the vacant and currently occupied roles should be filled with appointees who prioritize addressing the risk that climate change poses to our financial system.
Member organizations of the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition released the following statements in reaction to the letter to Morton:
“Risky fossil investments threaten to destabilize not only our climate but our entire financial system, putting the safety of pensions, investments, and savings of millions of Americans in danger. We need the Treasury and all federal regulators to act with haste in holding financial institutions accountable to the Paris Agreement and protecting our economy,” said Jackie Fielder, Communications Director, Stop the Money Pipeline coalition.
“As extreme weather events this summer make clear that impacts of the climate crisis are already here, the lack of any visible or concrete action from Treasury’s Climate Hub is a deep concern, and it’s excellent that Senators Warren, Van Hollen, and Gillibrand are holding the Department to account. Mr. Morton’s track record indicates he’s most interested in helping investors profit off of the energy transition, but if he’s going to be in a role as important as Treasury’s climate counselor, he needs to take responsibility for addressing the causes of the crisis,” said Moira Birss, Climate and Finance Director, Amazon Watch.
“Wall Street has funded the climate crisis and environmental racism for decades and can’t be trusted to self-regulate. The barrage of greenwashing statements and false solutions from banks and other financial institutions in the past year prove why we urgently need the Treasury Department and all federal regulators to implement strong guidelines to truly zero out all current investments and prevent all future investments in fossil fuel corporations. It’s encouraging to see that Senators Warren, Van Hollen, and Gillibrand are demanding action from the Department,” said Erika Thi Patterson, Campaign Director for Climate and Environmental Justice, Action Center on Race and the Economy.
“Climate change poses dire risks to our communities and our financial system, and it’s going to take bold action from the Treasury Department and other financial regulators to rein in Wall Street’s reckless financing that’s fueling the crisis,” said Sierra Club Financial Advocacy Campaign Manager Ben Cushing. “Treasury has a critical role to play in ensuring that our government protects our economy from risky and destructive fossil fuel investments, and we applaud Senators Warren, Gillibrand, and Van Hollen for their leadership pushing the administration to act urgently.”
“Historically, under existential threats, the entire machinery of the US economy has been directed to ensure the wellbeing of Americans. It’s about time that the Treasury Department takes its own rhetoric seriously and deters American financiers from financing the enemy, fossil fuels, and starts financing the solution, a just transition to a Green Economy,” said Jeff Hauser, Executive Director for the Revolving Door Project.
“The Treasury has a mandate to protect our economy from the devastation of the climate crisis, which threatens the financial security of every American. As the leader of the new Treasury climate hub, John Morton has a critical opportunity to take meaningful action to protect our financial system from the threat of a climate-fueled crash by reining in Wall Street’s risky fossil fuel investments. President Biden’s May Executive Order made clear that regulators must assess and address climate risk, and Treasury’s climate hub must take that charge seriously. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes that allowed the Great Recession to raze our economy just over a decade ago; and we applaud Senators Warren, Van Hollen, and Gillbrand for their focus on the urgent task of protecting the American people from Wall Street’s reckless risk taking,” said Evergreen Action Campaigns Director Lena Moffitt.
The Stop the Money Pipeline Coalition is a coalition of more than 150 organizations working to hold the financial backers of climate chaos accountable.