Energy & Environment

More than 100 climate groups press Kerry on Wall Street’s role in global warming

getty: John Kerry

Nearly 150 climate advocacy groups are calling on John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, to curtail the amount of money Wall Street sends to fossil fuel companies and recognize the role the firms play in the planet’s changing temperature.

A combined 145 organizations, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, pressed Kerry in a letter to focus on money that flows from banks and investors to companies that contribute to climate change, mainly those investing in fossil fuel extraction and deforestation. 

“Today we write to request your support and leadership in urgently addressing one of the most important and overlooked drivers of climate change: ending the flow of private finance from Wall Street to the industries driving climate change around the world — fossil fuels and forest-risk commodities,” the groups wrote.

“We must recognize that Wall Street isn’t yet an ally,” they added. “As long as U.S. firms continue to pour more money into the drivers of climate change, they are actively undermining President Biden’s climate goals.”

The letter singled out a number of banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc., for their donations to companies they say are exacerbating the temperature changes across the globe. 

The groups specifically requested that Kerry press U.S. corporations to divest from “pure-play” coal, oil and gas companies and have those companies’ discussions “appropriately reflect climate risk.”

They also said he should apply pressure to banks and insurers that have already committed themselves to have net-zero fossil fuel emissions to expedite their efforts, including “an immediate end to financing for fossil fuel expansion” and “a phase-out of all financing for fossil fuel projects.” 

“Until we can hold Wall Street firms to account, no amount of new green-finance commitments can credibly undo the damage that their fossil-fuel financing is doing to the climate, to U.S. climate leadership, and to our chances of meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement,” the groups wrote.

When asked about the letter, the State Department, which houses Kerry’s office, said the administration would work to balance government action on climate change with outreach to the private sector.

“There’s no question the climate crisis requires assertive government action.  But given the global funding gap, we can’t look to government alone to deliver the resources we need. We also need the full engagement of the private sector. So even as we work to pursue the most ambitious climate agenda in history, we are focused on mobilizing public and private sector financing alike,” said a State Department spokesperson.

The letter comes as the Biden administration touts its efforts to tackle climate change. Among its efforts were rejoining the Paris climate agreement, a key goal of which was pushing financial markets away from fossil fuels, and ordering the creation of a climate plan, which Kerry said would include “ending international financing of fossil fuel projects with public money.”

It is also pushing a massive infrastructure plan that would include a number of climate change provisions.

Updated at 12:01 p.m.

Tags Environmental policy of the Joe Biden administration Fossil fuel fossil fuel divestment Greenpeace Joe Biden John Kerry

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