Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell (center) sits with Federal Reserve Govs. Lael Brainard (left) and Miki Bowman (right) at an October 4, 2019 event at the Fed's headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Warning of Climate Chaos, New Campaign Demands Fed 'Stop Fossil Fuel Finance'

"Not only does the Fed have legal authority to stop fossil fuel finance—it's their responsibility."

Brett Wilkins

The grassroots environmental advocacy group on Tuesday launched the "Fossil Free Federal Reserve" campaign, demanding the Fed codify its climate responsibility and calling on U.S. President Joe Biden to appoint a chairperson who is a "climate champion."

"We're launching this campaign because climate chaos is a disaster for all of us, including the economy."
—Tracey Lewis,

The new campaign—part of a global effort to press banks, financial institutions, and insurers to "stop the money pipeline to fossil fuels"—is demanding that the Federal Reserve end bank fossil fuel financing by using existing regulations. It also calls for an alignment of Fed spending and purchasing with the Paris climate agreement's more ambitious goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Furthermore, the campaign asks the Fed to encourage financial institutions to make investments "aimed at limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, with a particular emphasis on lending to low-income communities and communities of color."

"Building a Fossil Free Federal Reserve is a key tool in our climate recovery toolbox," Tracey Lewis,'s senior climate finance policy analyst, said in a statement. "We're launching this campaign because climate chaos is a disaster for all of us, including the economy. Not only does the Fed have legal authority to stop fossil fuel finance—it's their responsibility."

The campaign is timed with an eye on the end of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's term in February 2022. Biden is expected to announce his pick for Powell's successor—who must be confirmed by the Senate—as early as September. More than 20,000 people have signed a petition at urging the president to "nominate a climate leader" as the next Fed chair.

"Jerome Powell continues to finance climate destruction instead of supporting Black and Brown communities on the frontlines of Covid-19, racial and economic injustice, and climate devastation," Lewis said.

According to

As recently as last week at a Congressional Committee hearing, amidst record-breaking heat, deadly flooding, and intensifying wildfires, Powell doubled down on his climate action delay, asserting that incorporating the risks of climate change into financial systems is "not a top priority."

During the Covid-19 pandemic, 46 fossil fuel companies received $828 million in loans under the Federal Reserve's "Main Street" pandemic lending program, over 13 times what was loaned to renewable energy.

"We the people are rising up to demand bold policies that shift power away from fossil fuel billionaires toward our communities," said Lewis. "We call on Biden, [Treasury Secretary Janet] Yellen, and the Senate to appoint a real climate leader who will re-imagine the role of the Federal Reserve in climate and economic recovery."

The campaign cites Positive Money's Global Green Central Bank Scorecard—on which the United States scored 11 out of a possible 50 points, earning a D- grade—as further evidence of "how the Federal Reserve had failed to use the powers it has to address the climate crisis."

Green Central Banking Scorecard

By contrast, after a year and a half of protests, petitions, and other grassroots pressure, the European Central Bank (ECB) unveiled an action plan "to include climate change considerations in its monetary policy strategy." The European Union scored 33 points on the Green Central Bank Scorecard, for a grade of D+.

ECB President Christine Lagarde will join Powell and "central bankers, policymakers, academics, and economists from around the world" at next month's Jackson Hole Economic Symposium, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's annual special meeting in Wyoming whose theme this year is "Macroeconomic Policy in an Uneven Economy."

Lewis said that "while the ECB begins to act on fossil fuels as a direct risk to our climate and financial systems, the Fed dangerously abdicates responsibility."

"Ending fossil fuel finance," she added, "is about global justice."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Coalition Sues Biden EPA Over Approval of 'Highly Toxic' Pesticide Linked to Parkinson's

"This paraquat registration puts EPA on the wrong side of science, history, and the law."

Andrea Germanos ·

'Coal Is Dead': New Global Pact Announced After China's Bold Step

"Consigning coal to history is crucial to avoiding catastrophic climate change."

Julia Conley ·

Hundreds of Thousands Take to Streets Worldwide for 'Uproot the System' Climate Strikes

"The climate crisis has not disappeared," said Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. "It's the opposite—it's even more urgent now than it was before."

Jake Johnson ·

African Leaders Condemn Vaccine Apartheid as an 'Indictment on Humanity'

"We tend to forget that no one is safe until everyone is safe."

Jake Johnson ·

As Other States Try to Copy Texas, SCOTUS Asked to Find Abortion Ban Unconstitutional

The request from healthcare providers comes after a Florida Republican filed a copycat bill and advocacy groups called on Congress to affirm the right to abortion nationwide.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo