Protests Erupt at Chase Tower, Activists Call on World’s Worst Banker of Climate Change to Defund Fossil Fuels
Broad coalition of Indigenous and climate groups confront Chase at Annual General Meeting
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Chicago--Protests against Chase Bank for its role as the world’s worst funder of climate change escalated once again as dozens of Indigenous and climate activists chanted outside Chase Tower, while a delegation staged an action inside the banks’ annual shareholder meeting.
Inside Chase’s Annual General Meeting at the Chase Tower on S Clark Street, a broad coalition of groups delivered an open letter to Chase CEO Jamie Dimon signed by 300 Indigenous, environmental, human rights and climate justice organizations; representing 30 million people.
Outside the shareholder meeting, leaders from across the Great Lakes region drew attention to the resistance movements against pipelines and fossil fuel extraction, and called on the bank to rapidly phase-out financing of fossil fuels. Participating organizations included Riding Tide Chicago, Honor The Earth, Indigenous Environmental Network, Rainforest Action Network, 4 Necessity Valve Turners, Chi-Nations Youth Council, Chicago Asian Americans for Environmental Justice, SOIL Save Our Illinois Lands, and more.
Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe): “Chase is the biggest funder of fossil fuels in the world. Chase is an institution made up of human beings — the last time I checked, human beings need clean water to drink and clean air to breathe, more than we need a profit margin. The world is on fire. Chase plays a direct, massive role in pouring gasoline on that fire instead of stomping it out. Stop funding destruction.”
Chase is a key financier for Enbridge’s controversial Line 3 pipeline, despite explicit opposition by impacted Indigenous nations. Chase is the only bank that is funding the companies behind the Line 3, Keystone, and Teck Frontier mine tar sands projects.
Amelia Diehl, Rising Tide Chicago: “Chicago is at the epicenter of a dirty pipeline system, much of it funded by Chase Bank, and we are showing that resistance is more powerful than extractive industries. By funding pipelines that spill, Chase Bank is directly responsible for putting the water source of over 30 million people in the Great Lakes watershed region at risk -- and we must remember we are all downstream. Our waterways are connected, and so are our struggles; we will not stop resisting until all fossil fuels are kept in the ground.”
According to Rainforest Action Network’s recent report Banking on Climate Change 2019, the four biggest global bankers of fossil fuels are all U.S. banks — JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America. Notably, JPMorgan Chase is by far the worst banker of fossil fuels and fossil fuel expansion — and therefore the world’s worst banker of climate change. Since the Paris Agreement, JPMorgan Chase has provided $196 billion in finance for fossil fuels, 10% of all fossil fuel finance from the 33 major global banks.
JPMorgan’s volume of finance for fossil fuels 2016-2018 is a shocking 29% higher than the second placed bank, Wells Fargo. The bank stands out even more from its peers in its volume of financing for the top companies expanding fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure: since the Paris climate agreement, JPMorgan Chase’s $67 billion in finance for the expanders is fully 68% higher than that of Citi, in distant second place.
Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network: “This planet is on a crash course to climate disaster and Chase Bank is in the driver’s seat. If a bank provides the capital for fossil fuel companies to destroy this planet and violate Indigenous rights, then they are just as guilty of the crime. There are no soft words here; Chase Bank is funding the death of this planet one investment at a time, and it must stop.”
Patrick McCully, Rainforest Action Network: “It is unconscionable that Chase Bank continues to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into perpetuating and expanding the fossil fuel industry. If Chase CEO Jamie Dimon does not want a legacy as the banker who did most to destroy our climate, he must announce a long term phase out of the bank’s fossil fuel financing aligned with keeping global warming under 1.5° celsius.”
Today’s activity follows a widespread flurry of actions directed at Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline and Chase Bank by a growing national movement that decries the bank’s massive funding of fossil fuels. Earlier this week, activists closed an intersection at Chase’s corporate headquarters in New York. Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) recently wrote a letter to Chase CEO Jamie Dimon expressing concern over the discrepancy between his bank’s rhetorical concern for climate change versus the reality of his bank’s funding decisions. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib used the Banking on Climate Change report to question Mr. Dimon at the House Financial Services Committee hearing, “Holding Megabanks Accountable.”
The action also follows a blitz of demonstrations across the country targeting Chase Bank; from Seattle where protestors shut down 44 Chase bank branches, to Boulder, where activists staged a “die-in” at the regional branch, to New York City, where protestors unfurled a 30ft. banner in front of Grand Central Station directly across Chase’s headquarters.
Update - May 22, 2019: Statement from Enbridge
The route of the Line 3 Replacement Project crosses one reservation in Minnesota, but that is because in August 2018 Enbridge reached an agreement with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, allowing the pipeline to cross the reservation. In addition, the Fond du Lac Band led an extensive Tribal Cultural Properties Survey, in coordination with several tribes, of the entire route of the project.
Enbridge has listened to feedback from the tribes that are closest to the proposed project route, and as a result, has made modifications. The Line 3 project route was designed to go around the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe at their request, it was removed from the watershed of the White Earth Reservation and routed to avoid the Sandy River, a wild rice water and culturally significant location for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
Enbridge has also committed to spending $100 million in support of tribal-owned and native-owned businesses as well as to hire and train Native American workers for the Line 3 project.