Opinion: Bank needs to put money where mouth is on climate change

By Mike Tobin

Come next Monday at noon you may be wondering why there is an art show at Second and Seward, and why people are gathered there in front of Wells Fargo bank. For starters, it is certainly not about Wells Fargo employees; they give Juneauites good and courteous service.

But local climate activists want to call attention to corporate Wells Fargo for its misdeeds against our climate. Wells Fargo ranks third in the Dirty Dozen, the worst banks in the world for funding the climate crisis according to the new Banking on Climate Chaos Report, 2022. (Google it!). Since the Paris Agreement in 2016, Wells Fargo has financed the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $272 billion. It ranks second among banks financing fracked oil and gas and pipeline companies. It is one of the financiers behind the Coastal GasLink pipeline currently violating the sovereignty of the Wet’suwet’en people near Moricetown, British Columbia.

While stating that they believe “that climate change is one of the most urgent environmental issues of our time,” Wells Fargo advertises that they are committed to “the responsible development of all forms of energy, from oil and gas to alternatives and renewables”. Climate scientists have been making the point for years that there is no such thing as responsible new oil and gas development if we want to avoid heating the planet more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

A recent example: The latest U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states emphatically that time is running out. Last year, the International Energy Agency released a report on what is required from the global economy if the world is to avoid the worst effects of climate change. One of the IEA’s clearest findings was that “there is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply” if the world is to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius which is imperative for the survival of millions of people and countless species.

Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations recently said, “Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels. Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”

Wells Fargo, it’s high time you stopped investing in climate destruction.

• Mike Tobin is a board member of 350Juneau, Climate Action for Alaska. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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