Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are less than 72 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign and our independent journalism needs your help today.
If you value our work, please support Common Dreams. This is our hour of need.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

For Immediate Release


Stefanie Spear,, 216-387-1609

Press Release

Shareholders Silenced — Banks Evade Responsibility for Climate Impacts


Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs, two banks with major investment and loan portfolios in fossil fuel projects, filed motions to exclude from their proxies a climate related shareholder resolution. The resolutions ask them to reduce the full carbon footprint of their loan and investment portfolios in alignment with the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal of maintaining global warming well below 2 degrees. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently granted the banks (Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs) the right to prevent shareholders from raising the issue with other shareholders, management, and the banks' boards.

The resolution calls attention to the significant climate risk banks create by financing fossil fuel projects and infrastructure that lock in carbon emissions for decades. At a time when every company should be taking responsibility for reducing its climate-related emissions, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs have been ranked as increasing their funding of oil and gas projects and infrastructure.

Climate change is an issue of deep concern for shareholders due to the risk it creates to shareholder portfolio value and to the individual companies in which they invest. Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and other U.S. banks continue to ignore or downplay their role in creating climate emissions, and have failed to begin measuring the emissions associated with their fossil fuel investments and loan portfolios, while other banks are taking action.

BBVA, Standard Chartered, BNP Paribas, Société Générale, and ING have all committed to decrease the climate impact of their loans in alignment with Paris climate goals. Others are working to develop the methodologies needed to measure banks’ full carbon footprints. Some banks, such as BNP Paribas are also committing publicly to reduce or eliminate their financing of some of the highest-carbon, highest-cost fossil fuel projects, including tar sands or Arctic drilling.

In contrast, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs continue to finance carbon intensive projects and companies, with no comprehensive policy to limit such activities.

Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, had this to say about the SEC ruling:

“We are very disappointed that these banks refuse to allow this important issue to be raised and voted on by other shareholders. This issue will not go away by ignoring it. Every dollar that banks like Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs invest in new fossil fuel infrastructure increases risk and slows transition to a clean energy economy. Common sense proposals asking banks to measure and reduce their extensive carbon footprints should not be off limits to shareholders whose portfolios face value destruction from climate impacts.”

Lila Holzman, energy program manager of As You Sow, made the following statement:

“It is unacceptable for banks like Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs to continue financing high-risk fossil fuel projects like Arctic drilling and tar sands. Despite this unfortunate SEC ruling, we hope to continue our dialogues with companies in the financial sector to raise shareholder concerns regarding the role banks play in increasing climate catastrophe.”

For more information on As You Sow’s work on climate change, click here.


As You Sow is the nation’s non-profit leader in shareholder advocacy. Founded in 1992, we harness shareholder power to create lasting change that benefits people, planet, and profit. Our mission is to promote environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies.

Naomi Klein: The US Is in the Midst of a 'Shock-and-Awe Judicial Coup'

"The rolling judicial coup coming from this court is by no means over," warned the author of "The Shock Doctrine."

Jake Johnson ·

Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·

Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·

Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·

Grave Warnings as Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Threatens 'Future of Voting Rights'

"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo