On May 18, the world’s worst fossil fuel banker, JPMorgan Chase, held their Annual General Meeting (AGM). Corporate AGMs are normally a unique opportunity for activists and community members harmed by the companies’ activities to make some noise and get to ask questions of top executives in the presence of shareholders, board members and the media. Due to the pandemic, however, Chase was able to move the 2020 AGM on-line and avoid a public show of opposition to their fossil funding.
While RAN and our allies were not able to show up in person this year, as we have previously, our work still led to Chase receiving a major jolt to their plans to continue bankrolling the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. (And while we couldn’t attend the AGM, we still sent Jamie Dimon a strong message. The night before the event, we projected our demands in 30-foot letters on a wall opposite his Manhattan home).
Shareholders challenge CEO, demand change
At the AGM, Chase CEO, billionaire Jamie Dimon, and the rest of the bank’s senior management team got a historic warning from their shareholders — the owners of the company and a constituency they cannot afford to ignore. A resolution calling for the bank to align its business with the Paris Agreement received a remarkable 49% of shareholder votes.
Shareholder resolutions related to climate or other environmental or social issues have typically struggled to get over 10% of votes, so the fact that this vote came so close to winning came as a major wake up call to Chase’s management that they must start to take climate seriously or risk losing similar votes in future.
“Years of research and people-powered action, as well as the undeniable urgency of the climate emergency, are breaking through and major shareholders are demanding real action,” explains Senior Finance Campaigner Jason Disterhoft.
RAN and our allies also showed our growing muscle in the days leading up to the AGM when Chase demoted their long-time “Lead Independent Director,” former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond. RAN had campaigned for shareholders to vote against Raymond, one of the world’s leading climate deniers. Earlier in the year our pressure also showed results when Chase announced further restrictions on their financing of coal and a new policy restricting finance for oil and gas in the Arctic – their first policy on any oil and gas sectors. (And we’re going to ensure that it’s far from the last).
These successes against Chase follow years of strategic RAN campaigning, and our work to build powerful coalitions of grassroots activists and others focused on changing how Chase does business.
Stop the Money Pipeline (STMP)
RAN has nurtured, over the last few years, a Chase Coalition with more than 40 grassroots groups across the country committed to non-violent direct actions to pressure Chase to phase out its fossil finance. In January 2020, RAN and our allies launched Stop the Money Pipeline (STMP), a coalition that now comprises 125 organizations from across the U.S. targeting the country’s top fossil fuel financiers. Chase is one of STMP’s main campaign targets.
As long as our research shows that Chase holds the distinction of worst fossil fuel funder, with all the climate and human rights impacts that involves, we’ll keep applying the pressure — and find new, creative ways to mount our resistance.
Read more about the world’s worst fossil fuel funders in our annual report, Banking on Climate Change www.ran.org/bankingonclimatechange.
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