Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Climate justice activists occupied the center of Zürich's financial district on August 2, 2021 to demand that the two biggest banks in Switzerland divest from oil, gas, and coal. (Photo: Rise Up for Change/flickr/cc)

Climate justice activists occupied the center of Zürich's financial district on August 2, 2021 to demand that the two biggest banks in Switzerland divest from oil, gas, and coal. (Photo: Rise Up for Change/flickr/cc)

'Civil Disobedience Is Our Duty': Swiss Climate Campaigners Occupy Zürich Financial Center

"We have no other choice. Either phase out fossil fuels or face forest fires, famines, droughts, and floods."

Kenny Stancil

Climate justice campaigners occupied the center of Zürich's financial district Monday to demand that the two biggest banks in Switzerland divest from oil, gas, and coal.

Dozens of "singing and chanting activists" blocked entrances to the headquarters of Credit Suisse and a UBS office building on Paradeplatz square, Reuters reported. Police officers arrested about 30 people who refused to disperse during the peaceful demonstration.

Frida Kohlmann, spokesperson for the Rise Up for Change group, said in a statement that Credit Suisse and UBS have failed to respond appropriately to the climate emergency. 

"That is why the climate justice movement is occupying the Credit Suisse headquarters and the nearby UBS office today to draw attention to the consequences of the Swiss financial institutions' inaction," Kohlmann said.

"Civil disobedience is our duty," tweeted Collectif BreakFree Suisse, part of the movement to stop financial actors from continuing to fund dirty energy projects that are fueling extreme weather-related disasters. "Either phase out fossil fuels or face forest fires, famines, droughts, and floods."

In response to the protest, UBS said in a statement: "Climate protection is a top priority at UBS... We are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across our business to net zero by 2050, with science-based interim targets for 2025, 2030, and 2035."

Despite having "decreased fossil fuel financing by 73%, from $7.7 billion in 2016 to $2.1 billion in 2020," UBS continues to invest money in "thermal coal mining, oil refining, shale gas drilling," and more, according to a recent analysis by CNBC.

Credit Suisse asserted that it "is committed to climate protection and achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement," referring to the 2015 international treaty that seeks to reduce carbon pollution and limit global temperature rise to below 1.5°C.

On its "DisCreditSuisse" campaign website, Collectif BreakFree Suisse said that while "Credit Suisse claims to align itself with the objectives of the Paris Agreement... it is one of the banks that is fueling the climate catastrophe the most." According to a recent analysis (pdf) of the world's largest asset managers, the bank ranks 72 out of 75 in terms of responsible investing.

"Although Credit Suisse officially supports the objectives of the Paris climate agreement, it has been financing companies in the coal, oil, and gas sectors since 2015 with billions of dollars for the exploration, production, and processing of fossil fuels," the group said. "Between 2016 and 2019, Credit Suisse invested (pdf) a total of $74.3 billion in fossil fuels. In particular, the bank provided almost $23 billion in financial support for global firms actively expanding their fossil fuels businesses."

"The existing instruments and guidelines do not appear to have led to any changes in the bank's decision-making processes," the group added. "The bank's loan and investment portfolios are simply not being decarbonized at a pace commensurate with IPCC recommendations and the climate crisis. The bank is thus discrediting itself."


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

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Thích Nhất Hạnh Dead at 95

"He inspired so many good people to dedicate themselves to working for a more just and compassionate world."

Jessica Corbett ·


Draft Order Shows Trump Considered Using Military to Seize Voting Machines

"This was part of the records that Trump was fighting to keep from the January 6th committee," one government watchdog noted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Groups Warn US Lawmakers Against Fueling 'New Cold War' With China

A policy of hostility toward Beijing, says a global justice advocate, has "become a convenient excuse for pushing a corporate, militarist agenda."

Jessica Corbett ·


Democracy 'On the Line' Says Bowman After Protest Arrest

"I will not stand by and I will not stay quiet while the fate of our democracy continues to hang loosely by a thread that the Senate is hellbent on tearing apart."

Julia Conley ·


To 'Hold Her Accountable for What She Did,' Primary Sinema Project Gets Into Gear

"Kyrsten Sinema is unfit to be a United States senator," the project asserts. "Just like the filibuster itself, we need to get rid of her if we want to save our democracy before it's too late."

Brett Wilkins ·

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