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climate crimes chase

Climate activists with Stop the Money Pipeline held a rally in midtown Manhattan on April 17, 2021, marching from the headquarters of BlackRock to JPMorgan Chase. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

'Deadline Glasgow': As Climate Summit Looms, Campaign Targets Complicity of Banks and Biden

Scores of groups are "calling on all financial institutions and the U.S. government to end their support for companies engaged in climate destruction and human rights abuses."

Jessica Corbett

More than 160 organizations launched a new campaign Tuesday, ahead of a United Nations climate summit this fall, demanding that Wall Street and U.S. President Joe Biden cut off funding for companies and projects fueling the climate emergency.

The "Deadline Glasgow—Defund Climate Chaos" campaign is spearheaded by the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition, which targets asset managers, banks, and insurers for their roles in climate destruction.

However, anyone who supports the campaign's demands can sign a petition "calling on all financial institutions and the U.S. government to end their support for companies engaged in climate destruction and human rights abuses by the start of the Glasgow climate talks."

The campaign includes an 8:00 pm ET kickoff event on August 3 featuring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.); 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben; and Giniw Collective founder Tara Houska, one of the Indigenous women leading the fight against the Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

The two-week U.N. summit known as COP 26, scheduled to start on October 31 in the Scottish city, will be "the most important climate talks since the Paris agreement," the petition says. That deal, which outlines global goals for limiting temperature rise this century, was adopted at COP 21 in late 2015.

For this year's summit, hosted by the United Kingdom in partnership with Italy, parties to the Paris agreement are being asked to present greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets for the next decade that align with reaching net zero by 2050.

Finance is also a top priority. The hosts' COP 26 website says that "we must work to unleash the trillions in private finance that are needed to power us towards net zero by the middle of the century."

That means "every financial decision needs to take climate into account," the site adds, noting:

  • This includes all private investment decisions, but also all spending decisions that countries and international financial institutions are making as they roll out stimulus packages to rebuild economies from the pandemic.
  • Companies need to be transparent about the risks and opportunities that climate change, and the shift to a net-zero economy pose to their business.
  • Central banks and regulators need to make sure that our financial systems can withstand the impacts of climate change and support the transition to net zero.
  • Banks, insurers, investors, and other financial firms need to commit to ensuring their investments and lending is aligned with net zero.

The new campaign's petition points out that over the past year, "many financial institutions―from banks to insurance companies; asset managers to pension funds―have made new climate commitments, such as 'net-zero' emissions by 2050."

"Yet, at the same time they are providing loans, insurance, and billions in investment capital to corporations expanding the fossil fuel industry and deforesting the Amazon and other tropical forests―companies that are guilty of human rights abuses and violations of Indigenous sovereignty," the campaigners continue.

They also highlight that "major new fossil fuel projects, such as Line 3, the TransMountain pipeline, the Formosa plastics plant, and major deforestation projects, could not get off the ground without the support of the financial sector and the U.S. government."

Hence the campaign targets not only U.S. financial institutions but also Biden.

The campaign launch came as John Kerry, the first-ever U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, said in London on Tuesday that the world "must make COP 26 in Glasgow, this year, a pivotal moment for the world to come together to meet and master the climate challenge."

"After our absence for four years, my friends, we approach this challenge with humility. But let me be clear, we approach it with ambition," said Kerry—who was secretary of state for the Paris negotiations—in an apparent reference to former President Donald Trump's policies on the 2015 agreement and climate.

"There is still time to put a safer 1.5°C future back within reach," he added. "But only if every major economy commits to meaningful absolute reductions in emissions by 2030. That is the only way to put the world on a credible track to global net zero by mid-century."

Biden, who returned the United States to the Paris agreement and hosted an April climate summit for world leaders, has announced plans to halve U.S. emissions by at least 50% from 2005 levels by 2030. Climate action advocates continue to push the president to go much further.

This post has been updated to include the date of the kickoff event.


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