The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Arielle Swernoff,

Climate, Indigenous Rights Shareholder Resolutions at Citi, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo AGM’s

Resolutions a “litmus test” for investors


This coming Tuesday, April 25, shareholders at Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, the second, third, and fourth largest global funders of fossil fuels, respectively, will vote on climate and Indigenous rights resolutions at their annual shareholder meetings. These three banks have provided over $789 billion in financing to fossil fuel companies since 2016.

Background on the resolutions

Shareholders at Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America will be voting on four resolutions related to climate and Indigenous rights. Those resolutions include:

· Fossil Fuel Phase Out: Calls on banks to adopt a time-bound phase-out of financing for projects and companies engaged in fossil fuel expansion. Filed at Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. A version of this resolution was filed last year at the same companies, and received 12.8% support at Citi and 11% support at Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

· Indigenous Rights Report: Filed at Citigroup, this resolution urges the company to issue a report on the efficacy of their current practices in ensuring their financing respects internationally-recognized standards for respecting Indigenous rights. A version of this resolution was filed last year at Citi and Wells Fargo, where it received 34% and 26%, respectively.

· Absolute Emissions Targets: Filed by New York City and New York State at Bank of America, these resolutions call on the banks to set absolute emission reduction targets. Banks currently use Intensity-based targets, which allow them to increase the amount of greenhouse gas emissions financed so long as the emissions per dollar or per unit goes down; absolute targets require companies to decrease emissions funded overall.

· 2030 Transition Plan: Filed at Bank of America and Wells Fargo, these resolutions urge the respective banks to publish a comprehensive plan detailing how they will meet their 2030 climate targets.

Significance of the Results

Shareholder voting is not like a Presidential election; the outcomes and impacts of the vote carry different weight. In the US the results of shareholder votes are non-binding. Resolutions that receive more than 50% of the vote are not automatically adopted, nor are those which fail to receive a majority vote considered a failure. Votes represent capital and power. Votes in support of climate resolutions at Citi, Bank of America and Wells Fargo last year, which received 11-13% support, represent tens of billions of dollars in shareholder equity.

It’s also worth noting that the largest bank shareholders are other Wall Street institutions and other banks. For example, asset managers Vanguard, Blackrock, and State Street, and banks JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, hold over 24% of shares at Citi. If these companies are trying to block accountability by shareholders at their own annual general meetings, they are hardly going to support similar resolutions at Citi’s.

Grassroots Action

On April 5, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) – now the world’s #1 fossil fuel financing bank of 2022harassed and segregated Black and Indigenous land defenders at its AGM in Saskatoon, and dodged accountability for its financing of toxic fossil fuel projects including the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline through unceded Wet’suwet’en Hereditary territory without consent from the rightful titleholders.

Citi, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs are expected to face intense grassroots protest over their fossil fuel financing and violations of Indigenous rights in the lead up to the AGMs. Groups in New York City, Charlotte, San Francisco and Dallas have announced their intention to shut down the headquarters of the three banks leading up to the AGM.

“Hiding behind “green” lingo and playing at hapless, innocent lender of billions to the fossil fuel industry is the kind of BS that got us to full-on climate crisis. Our actions have consequences. Funding the destruction of what remains is unconscionable. Indigenous peoples are on frontlines all over the earth, bringing the voice of nature to those who have forgotten and threatening big oil profit margins.” said Tara Houska, Giniw Collective. “Respect Indigenous rights, respect our only home. For our children and yours.”

“It’s despicable, in this time of extreme flooding, droughts, and fires, that the likes of Citibank continue to be the top financiers of fossil fuels in the world,” said Amy Gray, Senior Climate Finance Strategist with, and coordinator of the Climate Safe Pensions Network. “They clearly don’t care about communities, particularly Black and Indigenous communities facing the brunt of climate chaos. While bank executives greenwash and lie about supporting coal, oil and gas companies transitioning, big oil is raking in record profits and increasing pollution. It's time for shareholders, especially public pension funds, to wield voting power for Indigenous sovereignty and climate action."

"There is no more time for banks to delay addressing the urgent demands of frontline communities and climate science,” said Ernesto Archila, Strategy and Engagement Manager at the Rainforest Action Network. “This year's crop of resolutions demonstrate that a critical mass of investors are demanding clear limits and reporting on fossil fuel financing and indigenous rights. These responsible investors are not fooled by the continuous greenwashing and evasion we have seen from the banks, to the tune of $5.5 trillion in financing for fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement was signed."

“As communities of color are literally fighting for our lives on the frontlines of the climate crisis, U.S banks continue funding the fossil fuel industry. These banks target communities, like mine, treating us as collateral damage to corporate profiteering. By funding the fossil fuel industry these banks are also funding environmental racism and climate chaos. Our communities don’t have clean air or drinkable water. Our children have asthma and eczema. Our elders are dying of cancer and other health issues caused by methane and other pollutants being emitted. Enough is enough.” Said Roishetta Ozane, founder, director and CEO of The Vessel Project of Louisiana and Gulf Fossil Finance Coordinator for Texas Campaign for the Environment.

“Wall Street banks continue to sacrifice Black and Indigenous communities for profit. At some point the people who lead these banks will have to decide what is more important: their children’s future & the future of our planet, or another dollar in their pocket. History will judge us all by the actions we take today,” said Michael Esealuka, organizer with Healthy Gulf and True Transition

“Indigenous communities have bore the brunt of energy colonization. From the exploitation of traditional homelands, forced removal, pollution, the exploitation of resources, forced labor and the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous peoples, financial are not only complicit in these human and environmental rights abuses, but are directly financing it,” said Matt Remle (Lakota), co-founder of Mazaska Talks. “Financial institutions can, and must, do better.”

“Banks’ financing decisions have a significant outcome on whether the world will meet its climate goals. It is imperative for banks to adopt science-based policies that translate to real-world emissions reductions. They cannot hide behind accounting tricks to shield themselves and their shareholders from climate-related financial risks,” said Jessye Waxman, Senior Campaign Representative at the Sierra Club. “Prudent investors recognize the threats climate change poses to our economy and to their investments, and will support these resolutions that help shield banks from future risk.”

“As shareholders consider resolutions on climate and Indigenous rights, we’re organizing grassroots protests at Citi, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo in order to give them a glimpse into the destruction people are experiencing because of climate chaos,” said Alice Hu, Lead Climate Campaigner at New York Communities for Change. “Banks like Citi like to say verbally that they are funding the energy transition, but in reality it’s business as usual: pumping money into the fossil fuels driving worsening extreme weather, droughts, and food shortages that hit working class communities of color like ours the worst.”

The Stop the Money Pipeline coalition is over 160 organizations strong holding the financial backers of climate chaos accountable.