In 2015, J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon supported the Paris Climate agreement and pledged and investment strategy “consistent with a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions.” But the report shows he’s been anything but consistent. In fact, Chase is the number one bank investing in fossil fuels with $196 billion invested in coal, Arctic oil and gas, fracking, tar sands, and other fossil fuels ― in the last 3 years alone!
Lots of European banks like BNP Paribas and ING Bank have taken steps to limit their funding of new fossil fuel projects. But US Banks are continuing to spend $1.9 Trillion on new fossil fuel projects ― and what’s worse, their investment in climate chaos is actually increasing.
But if we act together, we can make a difference. The Dakota Access pipeline got $2.5 billion of its $3.8 billion in total funding from banks like Chase and Wells Fargo. Without those loans, they simply wouldn’t have enough money to build new pipelines, coal terminals or fracked gas facilities.
That’s the same motion that Lisa Murkowski used more than a year ago to whisk through several nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. At that time, no single Senator objected, and as a result we’ve had approvals of dozens of new gas pipelines and export terminals.
The damage that Andrew Wheeler could do as head of the EPA is even greater, and touches on a wide range of issues – from climate chaos, to poisoning farmworkers and contractors with chemicals, to poisoning whole communities (usually communities of color) with mercury pollution from power plants.
We need ever Senator who cares about the planet to vote against Wheeler this week. If we convince Senators this is a litmus-test on energy and environment, we’ll have a much better chance when it comes time to prosecute the Trump team for their corruption, collusion with polluters, and criminal neglect of our climate.
Watching US policy the last few months – with the triumph and travails of the Green New Deal, the mixed messages from 2020 Presidential candidates, the #FakeTrumpEmergency, and more, I’m left with an inescapable conclusion: Politicians and corporations wont save us from the climate crisis. But we might be able to save each other.
Which is why I was excited to see our old friends at Rising Tide North America are going on a U.S. tour with radical climate justice group Ende Gelände. Together, they’ll share stories from Germany’s wildly successful mass mobilizations and talk about how we in the US can mobilize the numbers to truly stop the fossil fuel industry, topple the systems that let it run amuck, and create truly decentralized and democratized energy systems.
Last fall, Ende Gelände organized 6,000 people to block an active coal mine and 82 simultaneous tree sits to protect a forest from being bulldozed.
Demonstrators invaded mining pits, danced in front of the diggers, slept on the railways, and made the connection between climate chaos and capitalism.
To do that here in the US, Rising Tide (and lots of us) believe we need to build a grassroots movement that uses direct action to bring down the fossil fuel industry and demand a just transition to clean and democratic energy systems.
We also need to confront false solutions like carbon trading; build international solidarity; use local and municipal power; and take leadership from those hit first and worst by pollution and climate catastrophes.
But there’s another really good reason to call your Senator now: Last year, we convinced every Senate Democrat to vote against a Trump nominee for FERC. If we can repeat that this week with a vote on Wheeler, we’ll send a powerful message that confirming Trump’s nominees to key posts on energy and environment is a climate crime. And when it comes time to prosecute the Trump team for their corruption, collusion with polluters, and criminal neglect of our climate: this will be important.
Under the All of the Above plan from Obama, the US dramatically increased production of Renewable energy at the same time we even more dramatically increased fossil fuel production and especially fossil fuel exports. Donald Trump even bragged on it at his state of the Union on Tuesday – and when Trump brags about something, you know it’s just the worst. Some of the places that got hit first and worst by this boom in fossil fuels:
The Gulf of Mexico, especially poor, black or brown communities in places like Louisiana and Texas who are also on the frontlines of climate-fueled super storms.
Indigenous communities in Canada and the plains, where a boom in tar sands and shale oil brought crime, pollution and pipelines.
California communities – again usually poor or black or brown or all of the above – that saw a massive expansion of fracking for oil and gas even as state leaders touted 100% renewable goals and carbon trading markets.
And the shale-fields of Pennsylvania, where a boom economy in fracking left behind pollution, bomb-trains, pipelines and chemical plants, but failed to deliver lasting economic stability.
That’s not the Green New Deal we hoped for or need. But even if it’s imperfect, the resolution introduced today is an important place to start conversation. We need to begin changing everything, and we can. But only if EVERYONE shows up right now to tell Congress: This is the moment to call – Congress just started to hold hearings yesterday on climate change, and this new Resolution for a Green New Deal is like a starting gun being fired. Now we race towards solutions, with only 10 years to make the big changes we need.
But will these new candidates and resolutions live up to the hype? Will they halt all new fossil fuel extraction, transition to 100% renewable energy, rapidly decarbonize our agriculture and transportation sectors, ensure a fair and just transition led by impacted workers and communities, uphold Indigenous rights, and pass a national jobs guarantee? In short, will the Green New Deal live up to our demands for justice and climate action?
They will, if we demand it. Which is why I need your help to deliver our demands for Real Climate Leadership this week.
Because we’ve been burned before: Under President Obama the Democratic party trumpeted an “all of the above” energy policy that sounded a lot like a Green new Deal in its pursuit of 100% renewable energy and a booming economy with no mention of keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
Those are the costs of getting climate policy wrong – by endorsing actions that focus on and reward economics and job creation rather than what is truly just or fights the climate crisis.
I’m excited about the prospect of a Green New Deal. And I’m encouraged by new leaders like AOC that are talking about the scope and scale of the problem in ways that match the science.
But we need to be very careful, right now at the start of the new Congress, that those big ideas and bold demands don’t get coopted into something like an All of the Above part 2.
And that’s why out actions this week are so important. By showing up right now and making a clear demand for Real Climate leadership based on these 5 demands, we can make sure that any new resolution or plan is judged against them and can steer the conversation towards solutions we need.
Together with more than 50 partner organizations we’re making calls and recruiting volunteers. And Congress and the 2020 Presidential campaigns are already responding.
Donald Trump has finally given in and ended the longest government shutdown in history. But his attacks on our climate and common home keep coming. If there’s one thing we can learn from the shutdown, it’s that when we stick together and stand by our principles we can win. And that’s why I’m so excited to fight with you for a Green New Deal.
Progressive champs like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have given us a unique chance: Her Green New Deal vision is a bold climate solution that would put power in the hands of communities, not corporations, provide family-sustaining jobs, and end our reliance on fossil fuels.
The idea of a Green New Deal is gaining momentum in Congress. But too many Democrats claim to support the “idea” of a Green New Deal, while continuing to support fracking, fossil fuel subsidies and our dirty, climate-wrecking status quo.
Which is why from February 4-8th, we’re joining a broad coalition of environmental organizations and people like you to visit our members of Congress and tell the we need REAL climate leadership. Will you join us?
Halt all new fossil fuel extraction, infrastructure, and subsidies; And transition power generation to 100% renewable energy by 2035 or sooner.
Rapidly decarbonize agriculture and transportation sectors and expand access to public transportation.
Ensure a Fair & Just Transition led by impacted workers and communities, including low income and communities of color, without relying on corporate schemes or market-based mechanisms.
Uphold Indigenous Rights.
Pass a national jobs guarantee, creating good jobs with collective bargaining and family-sustaining wages.
Dozens of organizations and hundreds of volunteers are already hard at work organizing events at local Congressional offices demanding a robust and powerful Green New Deal. Just check out the map of actions so far!
Once you sign up to host, we’ll send you information and materials like signs, copies of petition signatures, and a toolkit from partners to help you plan your event. You just need to pick a time and place (your local Member of Congress’ office) and recruit some friends to join you there!
This has been a busy week for Congress, which means it’s been a busy week for activists. On Tuesday afternoon, Drew helped run a training session at the Friends of the Earth headquarters in Washington D.C. and prepared to take action at Andrew Wheeler’s confirmation hearing. At the training, six of us (including Drew) volunteered to risk arrest by speaking out during the hearing.
The stories to be read were compiled from Friends of the Earth members and public reports on the impacts of EPA policy. The goal was to highlight the injustice of Andrew Wheeler’s confirmation hearing while hundreds of people are impacted by the ongoing government shutdown. With so many people unable to pay their mortgages or afford critical medications, why is Congress prioritizing the confirmation of a puppet to the coal industry to lead the EPA?
We waited until Wheeler made his opening remarks and allowed him to introduce his family before standing up. I held a sign and Drew shouted out the story a Texas woman who lives near a coal fired power plant that Wheeler wants to allow to pollute more. Capitol Police ushered us quickly out into the hallway where more than a dozen allier were also chanting and holding up posters. Four more friends were ultimately placed under arrest for refusing to stop chanting or disburse from outside the hearing.
The rest of the crowd stood in the hallway outside of the hearing room with their posters in silence until all of us were escorted out. All six of us were released after paying a fine of fifty dollars.
Later that same night, we were back at it, attending a meeting with 350 to plan and train folks for an action the following morning at the office of Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer. The plan was for a large group to enter the office of Senator Schumer and read out a letter demanding that he sign on to the Green New Deal. Members of the group would also tell their own stories about how the climate change movement has affected their lives. As we exited the office we would sing protest songs while two floors above, four people would drop a banner over the side of a balcony to be viewed from below.
On the morning of the action, we met at Union Station and briefed a larger crowd that had not been able to attend the previous night’s training. Then we walked over to the Capitol to file through metal detectors and security checkpoints before making our way to Chuck Schumer’s office. The stories and testimony insider from impacted young people were powerful. And the songs and chants outside echoed through the hallways and marble lobby of the Hart office building. No arrests were made that day, since our banner team chose to comply with orders by Capitol Police to pull up the banner.
On the lower floor, the larger group continued to sing, and share stories of climate impacts, until we were warned to cease and desist. After a second warning, the whole group together then walked over to the park across the street from the capitol building, where reflections and feelings of hope were shared before one final song was sung.
We’re joining a coalition of activist organizations to urge Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf to uphold a unique clause in their state constitution. Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania constitution declares that the people have “a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.” Despite this clear constitutional directive, Pennsylvania continues to endure heavy losses as a result of climate change, while elected officials like Gov. Wolf ignore their responsibility to protect our communities and climate.
Governor Wolf, like most Democratic Governors, has issued multiple statements indicating that he intends to protect the environment and tackle climate change. In his recent inaugural address he stressed the importance of having a “business community [that] recognizes the value of an energy policy that protects our environment and creates good jobs.” But Wolf’s actions have been far short of what’s required to meet those goals.
He claims he wants 10% of Pennsylvania’s power to come from solar energy by 2030, but his administration expands the fracking industry across the state. Throughout 2018, Pennsylvania faced extensive flooding from heavy rainfall, but Wolf refuses to keep fossil fuels in the ground to address the climate crisis. A brand new pipeline blew up, destroying a home, multiple vehicles, and other property. It is time for real action, not only to protect the state from the results of climate change, but also to begin implementing solutions into the state legislature.