By Sam Killmeyer

Nearly half of American households bank with JPMorgan Chase, and there are nearly 5,000 Chase Bank branches and 16,000 ATMs across the country. Collectively, Chase holds 2.6 trillion dollars in assets and operations around the world. You or someone you know has a Chase card in their wallet right now. You probably drive past a Chase Bank on your daily commute. 

Those bank branches are active participants in the climate crisis. Not everyone has a pipeline near them, but everyone does have a bank. And that’s exactly why Chase Bank is one of the focuses – along with BlackRock and Liberty Mutual – of the divestment movement and Stop The Money Pipeline day of action on April 23rd. If we work together by protesting at the banks in our own communities across Colorado we can pressure Chase to change their destructive practices.

The Number One Funder Of Fossil Fuels

Chase Bank is the number one investor in fossil fuels. Since the Paris Agreement, Chase Bank has invested nearly 200 billion dollars in the fossil-fuel industry. JPMorgan is far and ahead the largest investor, and their volume of finance for fossil fuels between 2016 and 2018 is 29% higher than the second-placed bank, Wells Fargo.

That’s why Chase Bank has become the primary focus of climate activists. While policies like the Green New Deal are important to combat climate change, financial institutions are one of the largest seats of power. Our fight for a better world needs to be multifaceted, and that includes pressuring banks like JPMorgan Chase to pull their investments from the fossil fuel industry. 

Chase is also the number one funder of the Coastal Gas Link Pipeline and has invested more in tar sands extraction than the other big five U.S. banks – Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America – combined. People like Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, are profiting from the destruction of our planet.

We trust our banks with our hard earned money, but we can’t trust these banks to act morally. They are driven by profit, and right now, there is big money to be made at the expense of our planet and of vulnerable populations. Along with warming our planet, funding fossil fuel projects means financing human rights abuses, particularly indigenous rights, like the rights of the Wet’suwet’en people being violated right now in the creation of the Coastal Gas Link Pipeline. Learn more here.

Check out a great interactive graph of bank financing for fossil fuels over time and by sector here on the Rainforest Action Network’s Banking on Climate Change report.

Stop The Money Pipeline

On April 23rd, a major day of action against Chase Bank and other financial institutions is being held in an effort to pressure these banks to stop investing in fossil fuels. 350 Colorado is part of the diverse coalition of environmental organizations that are organizing the day of action, including Rainforest Action Network, DivestEd, Earth Guardians, Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement, GreenFaith, Greenpeace, and many, many more. 

The demands of the movement are as follows:

We demand that banks, asset managers, insurance companies, and institutional investors stop funding, insuring, and investing in climate destruction.

April 23rd is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. On the first Earth Day, 20 million people took to the streets and their protest led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act. With the current energy building around the climate movement, who knows what change this year can bring.

We hope that this will be an opportunity to push Chase and other investors to stop financing the expansion of fossil fuels and to phase out fossil financing on a timeline that matches (or beats) the IPCC 50/50 1.5 degree C trajectory. 

It’s not too late to turn things around. Solutions do exist, and if we start investing in solutions instead of profiting from the current unsustainable and violent policies, who knows what we can build together. As Deborah McNamara wrote in the February newsletter, over 12 trillion dollars have been moved away from fossil fuel investments since the global divestment movement started ten years ago. 

Colleges across the country are choosing to divest. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is divesting from coal.

More on stop the money pipeline: 

What You Can Do

  • Local credit unions are much less likely to invest in fossil fuel projects than big banks and invest in their local community. Find one near you, open an account, and close your other accounts. Tell your bank why you are leaving and educate others on why you chose to do so.
  • Join the Stop The Money Pipeline movement by striking on Thursday, April 23 at your local Chase Bank. Or join us in Denver and RSVP here.
  • Are you a PERA member? Join the Fossil Free PERA Colorado movement and protect your pension from the fossil fuel industry.  
  • Sign and share this petition.  We’re partnering with organizations across the country to call on our elected leaders to divest all pension funds from fossil fuels.
  • Pledge to divest-invest personally. Sign the Divest-Invest Pledge here.

Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, please consider donating to 350 Colorado to help fund our work to divest Colorado from fossil fuels. Click here to make a donation!