By Scott Lewis
Broward County residents held a protest in front of Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank in Hollywood on Tuesday, as part of a national day of action across the U.S. to pressure major banks to stop financing the expansion of the fossil fuel industry.
The rally was among the 100 events held across the country. The top four fossil fuel financing banks include not only Bank of America and Wells Fargo but also JP Morgan Chase and Citi. These four banks pump over one quarter of the $4.6 trillion total financing for fossil fuels by the top 60 global banks between 2016 and 2021.
The day was organized nationally by Third Act, a group for climate activists over 60, with a local fossil fuel divestment partner group, Get My Money Out. It comes ahead of investor resolutions at banks’ annual general meetings next month to try to force them to stop funding climate chaos.
On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new report detailing some of the dangers that increased global temperatures hold for the planet unless we heed scientists’ warnings to turn away from fossil fuels quickly. Banks invest far more in fossil fuels than they do in climate solutions and thus can play a pivotal role in quickly shifting funds away from fossil fuels.
The Hollywood rally was held to draw the links between these four banks using our money to support new fossil fuel projects, carbon emissions and the impacts of sea level rise on South Florida. We wore life jackets and inner tubes to symbolize the dangers that sea level rise pose for our area.
Several of us cut up bank credit cards on the spot, and others pledged not to do business with these four banks. We also expressed our concerns about the impacts of accelerating climate change on our children and grandchildren and our fragile South Florida ecosystems.
It seems bizarre to us that these same banks that support home and small business loans at the local level, also support enormous new fossil fuel funding that will ultimately endanger these same homes and businesses.
It’s time for JP Morgan Chase, Citi, Bank of America and Wells Fargo to take responsibility for the danger that funding such projects pose for the planet and end their support for climate catastrophe.
Scott Lewis is one of the founders of the Get My Money Out (GMMO) divestment group in Broward County; a member of Third Act and Dayenu (A Jewish Call to Climate Action); and a science and environmental educator.