Will Big Banks Cave to Climate Activists?

PHOTO: fabola via Creative Commons

For decades labor unions have utilized the tactics of corporate campaigns, which single out and target individual companies with public pressure via shaming and critical attacks, in order to get them to surrender and accept unionization of their workers.

Other activists behind various progressive causes have adopted the strategy in order to advance their agendas. Not the least of these are the shrill climate change warriors, who battle against the “evils” of the fossil fuels that energize almost every aspect of our everyday modern lives.

So far environmental pressure groups like Greenpeace and 350.org have gone after the obvious targets: coal and oil companies; public utilities like Duke Energy and American Electric Power; the automobile industry; and tech companies like Apple and Amazon who churn massive amounts of electricity for cloud computing services and the like.

Now their target is the lifeblood of every other business: the finance industry.

Last month a coalition of the climate change activists formally launched a “Stop the Money Pipeline” initiative, aimed at Wall Street, to demand that “banks, asset managers, and insurance companies stop funding, insuring, and investing in climate destruction.”

According to a “fossil fuel report card” released by a coalition of many of the same groups last year, 33 global banks directed $1.9 trillion to fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate agreement was adopted in December 2015 (from which President Trump is removing the United States).

“If banks don’t rapidly phase out their support for dirty energy, planetary collapse from man-made climate change is not just probable,” warned Alison Kirsch of the Rainforest Action Network, “It is imminent.”

According to the coalition, the top finance industry offenders are JP Morgan Chase ($195 billion, Wells Fargo ($151 billion), Citibank ($129 billion) and Bank of America ($106 billion). The demand is that these institutions comply with the climateers’ compliance with a preposterous “zero emissions” agenda, which not only de-funds fossil fuel companies, but prevents funding of any infrastructure that enables the transportation of those energy sources.

Bill McKibben, the rabblerousing co-founder of the extremist 350.org, said JP Morgan Chase is especially odious because they finance “the very worst projects — projects that expand the reach of fossil fuel infrastructure and lock in our dependence on fossil fuels for decades to come.” He cited as one example a pipeline project that adds 337 miles of conveyance across Minnesota, enabling 760,000 barrels of crude oil to more easily reach refineries in Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Ontario.

“If we could get just one offending bank to move toward divesting from fossil fuels, the ripple effects would be both swift and global,” McKibben said.

The groups, quarterbacked by McKibben and 350.org, are already employing the “corporate campaign” tactics. In mid-January activists conducted a sit-in at a Chase Bank near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, with actresses Jane Fonda and Susan Sarandon lending their celebrity to the publicity effort (Fonda has been leading weekly climate-themed protests of her own in Washington every Friday).

“Move your money, Chase, or we’ll move ours,” the protesters shouted.

That demonstration was considered only a “test run” of what is expected to be more disturbances in the future, along with the usual social media pressure and traditional media campaigns.

And the petulant foot-stomping ultimatum that  “Stop the Money Pipeline” sends is, “We demand that banks, asset managers and insurance companies stop funding, insuring and investing in climate destruction.”

Or else.

The current “top targets” of the climate agitators are Chase, insurance company Liberty Mutual, and investment firm BlackRock, the latter of which is the largest of its kind in the world. The $7-trillion fund manager – even though it promised three years ago it would consider climate “risks” when investing in companies – clearly hasn’t done enough to appease the global warming mob. So CEO Larry Fink announced last month that BlackRock would increase its number of “sustainable” funds, divest some holdings in coal-related companies, and be more transparent about how it addresses climate in its investments.

You’d think the $600 million that BlackRock just landed in a brand new “sustainable” fund, with plans to double the number of such funds to 150 in the near future, would pacify the climate mafia. You’d be wrong.

Instead, on Monday, enviro-vandals stormed BlackRock’s Paris offices and sprayed red paint on the floors and graffiti on the walls “with environmental and anarchist slogans,” according to AFP. And the climate thugs have reportedly followed Fink around to his meetings and events to further intimidate.

Unfortunately in most cases the tactics seem to work, with no consequences for the criminal protesters, other than occasionally being taken to jail, processed, and then released with little or no punishment. In one example, activists who staged tennis match stunts inside branches of Credit Suisse in Switzerland, to protest Roger Federer’s sponsorship deal with the international bank, were acquitted last month after refusing to pay fines for trespassing.

It’d be one thing if the pressure groups actually accomplished any of their goals, or if the public was behind them, but neither is the case. As Financial Times columnist Jonathan Ford explained last month, as one hypothetical example, if you “put Royal Dutch Shell out of business by dumping its shares…state-run national oil companies in Asia or South America might pick up the slack, pumping out more polluting output,” because they would do so less responsibly and cleanly.

And the public shows little concern, which has long been the case, despite now at least two decades of alarmism. Pew Research’s most recent survey of the issues that people care about the most placed “climate change” 17th out of a list of 18 priorities, and similarly ranked second-to-last almost every year previously since 2014.

Which tells you the protests are more about anarchy and pursuit of outsized political power in light of the activists actual support. The large financial institutions should pay them no mind, unless they damage their property and threaten their people, in which case they need to press charges and sue them civilly.