Banking on climate chaos

The increasingly dire environmental chaos is seen in many ways. Most recently in multiple days of tornado outbreaks in this country. In the increasingly dire warnings in the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

And yet the Biden administration is releasing a million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And pressuring oil companies to activate their oil leases. To ramp up natural gas exports.

These are just a few of the many actions that always place economics above our environment.

Banks that fund fossil fuel operations are just as guilty as the fossil fuel companies themselves: that was the message delivered to TD Bank and Bank of America at their branch locations in downtown Northampton, MA, on Saturday morning. Protesters demanded that the two banks “stop the money pipeline” by ending all loans and investments in the fossil fuel business and diverting those resources to the renewable energy sector. 

Stop the Money Pipeline is an international campaign of over 175 organizations fighting to stop financial institutions from funding dirty energy. The campaign is committed to the rapid decarbonization of our economy and to principles of equity and justice. Its central demand is straightforward:

We demand that banks, asset managers, insurance companies, and institutional investors stop funding, insuring and investing in climate destruction. They need to stop funding fossil fuels and deforestation and start respecting human rights and Indigenous sovereignty.

TD AND BANK OF AMERICA: STOP FUNDING CLIMATE DESTRUCTION By Climate Action Now, Popular Resistance, April 5, 2022

Banking on Climate Chaos. Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2022 is an excellent resource. This graph came from that report that also contains interactive data graphics.

https://www.bankingonclimatechaos.org/#casestudies-panel

It’s depressing to think about all the times we’ve tried to get financial institutions to change. Without success as shown by the graph above.

Perhaps if only to show future generations that we tried, following is a history of some of our efforts to stop funding fossil fuel projects.

I first became involved in fossil fuel resistance when I was trained by the Rainforest Action Network as an Action Lead in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance in 2013. We didn’t focus on banks, instead planning acts of civil disobedience at Federal government buildings. We did get Senator Donnelly to stop promoting the Keystone XL pipeline as creating jobs after the Indianapolis Star published my letter to the editor.

11/19/2015 In cities across the country, coordinated actions occurred as activists went to Morgan Stanley offices to deliver petitions asking the company to stop funding fossil fuel projects. Several of us spoke to the local Morgan Stanley manager that day. At the shareholders meeting several days later, a decision was made to stop funding coal. But as seen in the graph above, they continue billions of dollars in fossil fuel investments.


In 2016 the focus became the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), with the leadership from Standing Rock.

DIVESTMENT One of our efforts in Indianapolis was to encourage people and organizations to divest their accounts in banks that funded DAPL. North Meadow Circle of Friends, where I attended, closed their Chase bank account.

One day (2017) in Indianapolis a group of us marched from the Eiteljorg museum to two of the banks funding DAPL, Chase and PNC. We stood outside each bank in silence, with our signs, as people with accounts went into the bank to close their accounts. $110,000 was withdrawn that day.

I had my own experiences at the downtown Chase bank, where I closed my account. I returned to the bank for follow up with the bank officer who helped me close my account. Defunding Experience | Quakers, social justice and revolution (jeffkisling.com)


US Bancorp is the parent company of US Bank.  Since US Bancorp’s headquarters are in Minneapolis, and the Super Bowl (2018) was going to be held in the US Bank stadium there, environmental and social justice groups realized the opportunities to reach large numbers of people during the Super Bowl weekend.

I traveled to Minneapolis the day before the game with a group organized by Ed Fallon of Bold Iowa.  We left Des Moines at 7:00 am and arrived at the MN350 (Minnesota branch of 350.org) at 11:30.

See more here: https://jeffkisling.com/2018/02/05/super-bowl-and-justice/


In 2020 I began to learn about the struggles of the Wet’suwet’en peoples in British Columbia, as they tried to prevent a liquid natural gas pipeline from being built through their pristine lands and waters. Feb 7, 2020, we held a vigil of support in Des Moines, Iowa.

First Nations peoples have been very active with demonstrations against the banks funding that Costal GasLink pipeline.

Last December a number of us rallied at a Chase bank in Des Moines, calling for Chase to stop funding fossil fuel projects. Des Moines Black Liberation attended in support of the Wet’suwet’en peoples. Our justice work forms networks.


The latest attempt to decrease carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the proposed CO2 pipelines. Which are attracting funding but should not be built for many reasons. This is unproven technology, incredibly expensive and ineffective. And with all the problems associated with pipelines.

Sikowis Nobiss organized this gathering at Summit Carbon in Ames, Iowa, in February.


And most recently, my friend Jake Grobe at Iowa CCI organized an event in February at an Iowa Energy Center Board Meeting, where we said MidAmerican Energy’s coal burning power plants must be shut down.

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