Washington, DC — This Earth Day, activists will turn up the heat on Wall Street through mass online actions.
Earth Day Live, the three-day online Earth Day celebration, will dedicate an entire day — Thursday, April 23 — to “Divest,” a day-long push to end the financing of climate destruction.
Programming for the day is being led by Stop the Money Pipeline, a coalition of over 90 climate, Indigenous, and social justice organizations that launched this January to pressure banks, insurance companies, asset managers, and asset owners to stop financing fossil fuels and deforestation.
Thursday’s live stream will feature webinars, workshops, call-ins to financial institutions, and more. Planned events include:
- A webinar on how JP Morgan Chase, the largest bank funder of coal, oil, and gas in the world, is funding some of the most controversial fossil fuel projects in the country.
- A conversation with representatives of the Gwich’in Steering Committee about how they successfully pressured Goldman Sachs and other major Wall Street banks to back away from funding drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
- A big call-in drive to BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street to pressure them to vote Lee Raymond — the former CEO of ExxonMobil — off the board of JP Morgan Chase.
Stop the Money Pipeline had initially planned to occupy hundreds of Chase Bank branches and the headquarters of other key financial targets on April 23, but had to cancel those offline plans out of an abundance of caution because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizers say the need to pressure Wall Street to stop funding polluters and start supporting communities is more important now than ever. Even with tens of millions of Americans out of work, Wall Street institutions seem more interested in buying up oil companies and setting up “backdoor bailouts” for the fossil fuel industry than they are in getting money directly to those in need.
Stop the Money Pipeline has been working to expose Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry’s attempts to profit off the coronavirus crisis, while uplifting the communities of color, low-income people, and Indigenous communities most impacted by the current crisis.
Organizers hope the “Divest” day will bring thousands of new people into the movement to take on Wall Street and “stop the money pipeline” from Wall Street to fossil fuel companies. In May, the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition will turn its focus to shareholder season and pressure financial institutions to put people ahead of polluters.
“Even though we can’t take to the streets to march and rally together, that won’t stop us from keeping the pressure up on the financial institutions that are helping to drive the climate crisis. It’s more important than ever to hold Wall Street and push them to support our communities, not corporate polluters,” said Sierra Club campaign representative Ben Cushing.
“Insurance companies like Liberty Mutual should stop risking our future and stop insuring and investing in dangerous fossil fuel projects,” said Corey Troiani, Clean Economy Director with Texas Campaign for the Environment
“With our survival at stake, every day must be Earth Day. Financial institutions that are bankrolling the climate crisis must transition to financing a clean energy economy today,” said Fran Teplitz, Executive Co-Director of Green America
“The fossil fuel industry is a financial house of cards hellbent on destroying the climate and wrecking communities, as the COVID-19 crisis has made clear. Earth Day Live is the perfect opportunity to mobilize millions and shine a spotlight on the banks and insurers driving the climate crisis and financing deadly fossil fuel infrastructure that’s harming communities,” said Collin Rees, Senior Campaigner at Oil Change International.
“Black, Indigenous, and other fenceline communities already suffering respiratory illness and other health impacts of living with fossil fuel pollution face a disproportionate burden from COVID-19. These communities and the furloughed and laid off workers are the ones who need a bailout – not fossil fuel CEOs looking to take advantage of a public health crisis while continuing to pollute with impunity and accelerate climate disaster. Financial institutions that bankroll the fossil fuel industry have a responsibility to ensure companies don’t use this crisis to exacerbate another,” said Kathy Mulvey, fossil fuel accountability campaign director, Union of Concerned Scientists.
“As the pandemic has exposed, this moment is a choice between short-term profits or mutually beneficial investments in our communities. Oil has crashed and accelerated a need for a just transition to end risky pipelines and invest in renewables. Short term profits mean dirty air and higher asthma rates — more death and destruction. As long as insurers and asset managers play their part and stand against us; we are betting against ourselves. We are rising up and uniting in our power as well until we win the livable climate we deserve in a society that uplifts people over polluters. Join us in supporting the movement in taking over the internet as a part Earth Day Live on April 23. The status quo has rigged our system, questions why we can’t pay for a Green New Deal, and enables corporate welfare to bailout industries crisis after crisis. This Earth Day we’re game to expose the system and take virtual action,” said 350.org North America Director Tamara Toles O’Laughlin.
“Despite recent sustainability commitments from many Wall St firms, their money trail tells a different story: financial giants like BlackRock and JPMorgan Chase have provided billions of dollars for oil extraction in the western Amazon, not to mention fossil fuel extraction around the world. We might not be outside the doors of these financial giants today, but we will not let up the pressure on them to stop financing the industries most responsible for climate destruction and indigenous rights violations,” said Moira Birss, Climate and Finance Director at Amazon Watch.
“Student fossil fuel divestment organizers are forging a new path for the climate movement. We are pushing the movement to recognize colonial capitalism as the root of climate justice. Young folks are especially affected by the failures of capitalism like exploitative tuition, downward economic mobility, and the destruction of their futures’ for profit. Students are taking action on Earth Day to divest from the capitalist, extractive economy and reinvest in a cooperative, regenerative economy,” said Gracie Brett, Campus Organizer at Divest Ed.
“On this Earth Day 2020, we call for an immediate end to fossil fuel financing. Beneficial State Foundation proudly joins Stop the Money Pipeline to cut the ties between the fossil fuel industry and the largest banks. Banks have an enormous opportunity to be a part of a just transition to a clean energy economy. And we all deserve a new way of banking that redirects the flow of our deposits toward a just, inclusive, and regenerative future,” said Emma Guttman-Slater, Policy Advocacy & Field Building Director at Beneficial State Foundation
“Millions of lives are on the line, yet financial institutions and governments continue to pour billions into the dying fossil fuel industry, which is driving the destruction of the climate, deforestation, and further harms to global public health. What is urgently needed is immediate divestment from the fossil fuel industry, and investment in our communities, renewable energy and a regenerative economy — anything short of this is a disaster for our collective future. People and planet over corporate profits!” said Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN)
“Wall Street’s investments in the fossil fuel industry have hollowed out our communities, weakened our public establishments, and fueled global instability by perpetuating the climate crisis. Many Americans are suffering economically right now because our financial institutions have both created and funded a system that works for declining industries and their billionaires, while making life even more difficult for the 99 percent. This year, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we are coming together to say enough is enough: no more funding climate disaster,” said Caroline Henderson, Senior Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace USA.
“They’re committing genocide and convincing everybody else that it’s suicide. We can’t let them get away with that narrative. We can’t let them get away with that lie,” said Climate Justice essayist and Columbia University writer-in-residence Mary Heglar
“The billions Chase Bank is using to support the fossil fuel industry must be shifted to funding a just transition to clean energy–and we are telling them so. A coalition of Portland activist organizations, ST$P-PDX, is staging a Digital Chase Bank Takeover where thousands of reviews will highlight Chase Bank’s destruction of our climate and communities through comments on sites like Yelp, facebook and Google Maps and a massive social media campaign. Join us at the #DigitalChaseTakeover,” said Jenifer Schramm, a Team Lead with 350PDX.
“Join Earth Day–Divest to inspire global financiers to salvage their reputations and recoveries by accelerating toward healthy and sustainable portfolios. As JP Morgan’s internal January Special Report – Risky business: the climate and the macroeconomy stated, ‘a delayed policy response opens us up to potentially catastrophic outcomes, which might be impossible to reverse.’ On April 23rd, we’re staging an intervention to help those who cannot seem to help themselves: big banks, insurance companies, asset managers, and institutional investors,” said Cheryl Barnds.
“We celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Earth Day and the winding down of the fossil fuel era by calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies and projects that are both risky and unethical investments. It’s time to defund the climate crisis and the fracking, refineries and infrastructure projects that are poisoning our families, threatening our lives with increased pollution making us more vulnerable to the current pandemic, and increasing the likelihood of future tragedies,” said Micah Parkin, Executive Director of 350 Colorado.