Climate Activists Target Banks’ Greenwashing in Nationwide #DefundLine3 Protests

Yves here. Over the past decade plus, Wall Street has trotted out various climate change and dogoodery scams, from carbon trading to social impact bonds that did little to advance various causes but did provide nice fees and PR opportunities. So it’s not surprising to see that they’ve put old wine in new bottles via “sustainability-linked loans”. However, in a refreshing change, activists calling out this gimmick appear to be getting more press than the NGOs feeding from the trough.

By Brett Wilkins. Originally published at Common Dreams

In the wake of this week’s publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report underscoring the imperative to quickly transition to a post-fossil fuel economy, activists in dozens of cities across the U.S. on Friday rallied outside the offices of major banks to denounce their funding of polluting projects including Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

The activists targeted companies including BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase, and Liberty Mutual, which invest in, fund, and insure fossil fuel industry projects like Line 3.

“On Monday, the IPCC released its first comprehensive study on the climate crisis since 2013. Hundreds of climate scientists collaborated on the report, synthesizing the findings of more than 14,000 studies,” Stop the Money Pipeline—a coalition of over 150 groups whose mission is “holding the financial backers of climate chaos accountable”—said in a statement.

“The conclusions were clear: We must immediately phase out fossil fuels,” the group continued. “The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, summed it up: ‘This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.’ Yet, Wall Street banks are continuing to fund massive new oil pipelines like Line 3 that would lock in vast amounts of climate pollution for decades. Even worse, they are disguising their loans as ‘sustainability’ measures.'”

“You can’t build pipelines and be sustainable,” Stop the Money Pipeline said in a tweet decrying greenwashing by JPMorgan Chase, which provided $1.5 billion in so-called “sustainability” loans to Enbridge.

“Sustainability-linked loans sound good, but when you look more closely you’ll see they’re close to meaningless,” Stop the Money Pipeline explained. “Enbridge’s ‘sustainability’ loans reward the company for reducing emissions from its buildings and vehicles, but do nothing to address the oil that flows through its pipelines and is responsible for 99% of its climate pollution.”

“In other words,” the group said, “according to Wall Street, so long as Enbridge uses electric vehicles and solar power to build their oil pipelines, that’s fine.”

Jackie Fielder, communications director for the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition, told Common Dreams that “we’re taking action to call out banks for supporting Enbridge’s greenwashed ‘sustainability bonds’ while the Canadian-based oil company reimburses police for violent crackdowns on unarmed water protectors. These banks are now complicit in human rights abuses.”

As Giniw Collective co-founder Tara Houska explained earlier this month:

Police officers are reimbursed for any costs associated with Enbridge Line 3 protests, and it seems like they welcome the opportunity. One police officer was actually grinning and smiling and said he had a great time and couldn’t wait for us to come again. They’ve billed over $1.7 million to the Public Safety Escrow Trust, in which Enbridge is dumping millions of dollars to incentivize and encourage police officers to repress, suppress, surveil, and harass Indigenous people and our allies that are helping us try to stop this pipeline from happening in our treaty territory.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission required the trust to reimburse law enforcement when approving the project in 2018.

If built according to plan, Line 3 will carry up to 760,000 barrels of crude tar sands oil—the world’s dirtiest fuel—each day from Alberta to a port in Wisconsin. The pipeline would traverse Anishinaabe treaty land without the consent of the Indigenous peoples who live there. Line 3’s route would cross more than 200 bodies of water and 800 wetlands, raising serious concerns not only about its climate impact, but also about accidents and leaks that are endemic to pipelines.

State and local law enforcement officers have violently repressed #StopLine3 demonstrations in northern Minnesota while arresting hundreds of water protectors in recent months.

Meanwhile, Indigenous and green groups continue to pressure the Biden administration to honor Native American treaties and protect the environment and climate by stopping the toxic project like President Joe Biden canceled the permit for the highly controversial Keystone XL Pipeline in January.

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  1. Rod

    Pushing the issue of Climate Crises into and above the Owned Media and into the Public View is the work at hand.
    Mobilizing now for September and October ‘visibility’s ‘.
    There is something for everybody to do.

  2. Sue inSoCal

    Gee, it’s Jamie, one of the TBTF, didn’t wanna jail, banksters. Should we expect anything more? Such as a conscience? As for the government, I hear the ultimate line of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Ha.

  3. drumlin woodchuckles

    While the ” no more greenwash” groups can publicise and name the bad actors funding all these projects, other groups and persons can name all their subsidiaries and cut outs and ” adjacent to’s” and give, get and share advice on how to boycott those entities in every way possible.

    Move what money you have out of Chase and its cutouts. Don’t use perpetrator credit cards or debit cards. Other things like that.

    Occupy Your Money. Occupy Your Spending.

  4. Maritimer

    “…the NGOs feeding from the trough.”
    NC, you cannot emphasize that enough. Always check out thoroughly the provenance of your NGO.

    Years ago, I was slightly involved with a startup charity/NGO org. It was run by a husband and wife. Smelling a Big Rat, I did a lot of research and found out that the main source of funding was by a Corporate Foundation of which the wife’s father was a significant executive. (So, taxes avoided to provide gainful employment for execs’ children and also distort the social agenda.) I also checked the incorporation papers for this outfit and found there was significant boilerplate to prevent any takeover of the entity.

    There were lots of trips to Nepal and these folks were also getting into the RESTORATIVE JUSTICE field which was a big, big favorite of Government then and subsidized by them.

    Sadly, folks in the community thought highly of this entity since there was money rolling in and they were doing good works, allegedly. Never tried to convince anyone otherwise, just walked away in disgust.

    So, beware of any NGO you commit to.

  5. drumlin woodchuckles

    I suggest a new phrase for what the “counter-greenwash” activists are trying to do.

    Greenwash-stripping. As in “stripping off the greenwash”.

    In case some might find it useful.

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