World’s worst funder of climate change faces multiple shareholder resolutions, grassroots pressure.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, May 18, 2020 — JPMorgan Chase is holding its annual general meeting tomorrow amid mounting pressure from a broad array of stakeholders to end its massive role in financing the climate crisis. In an unprecedented online meeting due to the coronavirus lockdown, multiple climate-related shareholder resolutions are on the table — including a potential vote to remove former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond from the board, as well as resolutions requiring Chase to issue reports on the risks of its investments in tar sands and its plan to align its business with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Recent research confirmed that Chase continues to be far and away the world’s largest funder of the fossil fuel industry. The bank has contributed more than a quarter trillion dollars since the signing of the Paris Agreement. As a result, the bank has become a priority target of the environmental and climate justice movement, including the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition, comprising more than 90 climate, Indigenous, and social justice organizations.
Years of escalating grassroots pressure recently resulted in the demotion of prominent climate denier and former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond from his decades long position as lead independent director on Chase’s board, though he remains a member of the board. Influential shareholders ranging from New York’s City and State Comptrollers to CalPERS, the biggest pension fund in the U.S., have vowed to vote to remove Raymond from the board entirely.
“The campaign to expose Chase as the world’s worst funder of the climate crisis has ballooned into a full on international movement,” said Ruth Breech of Rainforest Action Network. “From Indigenous leaders, student organizers and celebrities to pension fund managers and politicians, a tidal wave of pressure is bearing down on Wall Street’s biggest bank to take responsibility for its pivotal role in all our futures and turn off the spigot of billions of dollars flowing to the fossil fuel industry.”
In recent years, Chase AGMs have generated robust protests, with hundreds of climate advocates and Indigenous representatives traveling from across North America and beyond to address Chase decisionmakers with their stories of how Chase’s financing decisions are impacting their communities and livelihoods.
“The days when Chase could quietly funnel money into the fossil fuel industry without the public taking notice are over,” said Sierra Club campaign representative Ben Cushing. “This powerful national movement will continue to hold the bank accountable for its contribution to the climate crisis and demand meaningful changes to align Chase’s investments with a climate-safe future.”
“While demoting climate-denying Lee Raymond as lead independent director after 19 years is a start, this is just the tip of the melting iceberg of what needs to happen at JPMorgan Chase.” said Richard Brooks, Senior Strategist with 350.org. “The future is not in financing risky, bankrupt prone fossil fuel companies wrecking our climate. It’s in investing in community driven climate solutions. It’s time for an overhaul at JPMorgan and we aren’t going to stop until we achieve that.”
Evolving their tactics against Wall Street banks during the pandemic lockdown, youth climate advocates are launching a pledge called Not My Dirty Money. High school and college age students have developed the project which calls on people ages 13-25 to pledge not to open their first bank account with JPMorgan Chase due to the banks’ outsized role in financing climate change. The average U.S. adult has used the same primary checking account for about 16 years, so youth opting out of Chase accounts is meant to leave a lasting impression on the company.
Responding to activist pressure, Chase announced in February it would limit loans to some coal firms and vowed not to finance new oil and gas development in the Arctic, but these moves were quickly and widely dismissed as a ‘baby step’ understood as completely inadequate to address the bank’s outsized role in propping up the fossil fuel economy.
“My family lost everything in Hurricane Sandy, which was a climate change disaster,” said Rachel Rivera, a Sandy survivor and member of New York Communities for Change. “JPMorgan Chase should clean up its dirty act by ending its financing of climate destruction, and boot climate denier Lee Raymond off their board of directors, not just sideline him as lead independent director.”