Media Round-Up — February 3, 2022

Welcome to the Climate Finance Media Roundup: a (now) bi-weekly curated digest of top stories and major developments in the climate finance space.

You can explore more about the Climate Safe Pensions Network here, and more on Stand.earth’s Climate Finance campaign here.

Read on below…

The New Republic – Why Are Fossil Fuel Firms and Senate Republicans So Afraid of Sarah Bloom Raskin?

“On Thursday, Sarah Bloom Raskin will go before the Senate Banking Committee for her confirmation hearing to become the vice chair for supervision of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors… Bloom Raskin has criticized no-strings-attached Federal Reserve funds being used to prop up risky, overleveraged fossil fuel companies as part of pandemic bond-buying programs.” 

New York Magazine – Toward an Energy Democracy

“The phrase ‘energy democracy’ goes down deceptively easily, combining the imperative to transition to renewable energy with a political system that is synonymous with freedom and individual rights…Investor-owned utilities, for example, helped cause wildfires in California through negligent maintenance of their power lines. They were also responsible for energy shutoffs for millions of people in Texas. Behind these dramatic episodes is the more chronic, mundane reality that these utilities regularly hike rates and exclude renewable and less dirty energy options — the costs of which are disproportionately borne by Black, brown, and Indigenous communities. An energy democracy would wrest control of the campaign against climate change by blunt means: empowering workers.”

Al Jazeera, ‘We are the power’

“But now industry is moving in on the Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia (BC). For years, Indigenous land defenders like Freda have sought to protect their lands and sacred headwaters from the construction of a pipeline…Now, the land defenders fear armed police are again preparing to move in on them. Here, they explain why they are prepared to put their lives on the line to defend Indigenous sovereignty and to protect the environment for future generations.”

CBS News – Climate activists push for banks to divest from fossil fuels

“Environmentalist Bill McKibben and his group Third Act, along with Valerie Rockefeller and her group BankFWD, are pushing for people over 60 to cut ties with banks that invest in fossil fuels. They joined CBS News to discuss how the initiative aims to force financial institutions to address the climate change crisis.”

Financial Times – JPMorgan fights nuns and activists over climate disclosure proposals

“JPMorgan Chase is fighting four shareholder petitions related to climate change at the Securities and Exchange Commission, in spite of a new policy by the US agency to take a tougher stance against attempts to block investor votes.”

Bloomberg – ECB Climate Test Goes Easier On Bank Trading Books Than Feared

“This month, the European Central Bank sent banks details of the landmark test…But some lenders and their advisers had braced for severe moves across a wide swath of industries beyond the most polluting sectors, said the people.”

POLITICO – BlackRock tallied its climate impact. Here’s what it found.

“Wall Street titan BlackRock Inc. in 2020 helped pump more than 330 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere — the equivalent of 71 million passenger vehicles driven for one year. Those eye-popping figures don’t come from environmentalists; they’re from the investment firm itself.”

CNBC – Los Angeles bans new oil and gas wells and will phase out old ones over five years

“The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday voted to ban new oil and gas wells and to phase out existing wells over a period of five years, following decades of complaints by residents who have grappled with health problems from living near drilling sites.”

POLITICO The Long Game Newsletter – Now, The Backlash 

“But where there’s a movement, there’s a backlash… [West Virginia Treasurer Riley] Moore is behind a coalition of 15 red states, including Texas, Wyoming and North Dakota, that want to punish banks and asset managers that treat oil and gas companies differently than other businesses. This fight may be political more than prudential. A growing body of research is showing that adopting ESG policies can be good for business (although the jury is still out on whether it translates into real benefits for people and the planet.) The idea has become more mainstream as executives personally experience the effects of climate change and their employees stage walkouts. Backers of divestment say the backlash from red state regulators and lawmakers is proof the movement is working.”

Slate – Oil Companies Are Whining About “Discrimination”

“At this point, numerous institutions have already successfully disinvested in fossil fuels, yanking a total of $40 trillion from the industry’s reach so far. But if ALEC has its way, with the support of sympathetic red states and conservative legal scholars, it could strike a blow to one of the climate movement’s most effective tools.”

IndyStar – Indiana bill targets banks that divest from fossil fuels, says they can’t do business here

“Indiana is not alone in the debate. The legislation is part of a growing movement across the country. It started in Texas when a similar bill was signed into law last year. Now the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, is pushing this new piece of anti-fossil fuel divestment legislation. Similar bills have popped up in a handful of other states.”

The Guardian – UK’s biggest private pension fund to shift £5bn away from polluters

“The UK’s biggest private pension fund [The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)] will shift £5bn of its investment in equities to an index avoiding the worst polluters, in a move that will immediately reduce the carbon emissions associated with the shareholdings by 30%.”

The Economist – Can big oil’s bounce-back last?

“An annual survey of 250 big institutional investors published on January 6th by the Boston Consulting Group (bcg) found that more than four in five think it is important for companies to establish targets for long-term emissions reductions. Nearly as many “feel increased pressure” to apply green filters to their investments.”

The Nation, Why I Divested My Bank Account and You Should Too

“Why did I break up with BoA? It wasn’t the customer service or any inconvenience. If anything, I found that BoA went out of its way to offer consistent customer service, and to be maximally convenient. But as a young person demanding climate action, I couldn’t accept doing business any longer with what I learned is one of the world’s greatest financiers of fossil fuels and, by extension, climate and community destruction.”

Pensions & Investment – N.Y. lawmakers say teachers’ plan falls short on polluters

“New York State legislators who have introduced bills requiring the $148.1 billion New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, Albany, to divest fossil fuel holdings said they were disappointed by the pension system’s Dec. 28 announcement of climate-change investment management plans, lamenting what they say is a lack of timetables to act on polluters.

Albany Times Union – Commentary: Teachers’ Retirement System must divest from fossil fuels

“Meanwhile, the Teachers’ Retirement System released an initial climate action plan only in late December. The fund divests from some thermal coal companies (in which it has minimal holdings) and freezes further share purchases of the oil, gas, and coal companies where it holds its largest positions. It also prioritizes the fossil fuel companies for engagement on climate issues through proxy voting and other methods.”

The Stranger – Seattle’s Pension Board Refuses to Divest From Fossil Fuels

“From forest fires to record-setting heat waves to extreme flooding, the Pacific Northwest has been hit hard by climate change over the last couple of years. If the world fails to take drastic action, entire regions of the globe could become nearly unlivable by the end of the century. And yet, as of the end of Dec 2020, Seattle’s pension board was complicit in all that climate destruction with its $61.6 million in fossil fuel stocks.”

VT Digger – Final Reading: A behest to divest

“[VT] State Treasurer Beth Pearce, who has long resisted calls for divestment, and Golonka appeared before the committee Tuesday to urge them to reconsider. Both argued that divestment is a less effective way to take action on climate change because Vermont would no longer have a seat at the shareholder’s table to make demands on large corporations.”

Yale Daily News – ExxonMobil and Chevron deemed ineligible for Yale investment

“The committee cited Principle No. 3 on the Fossil Fuel Investment Principles, which was adopted by the Yale Board of Trustees in April 2021, as the reasoning behind the decision. As of Dec. 20, 2021, the list of companies ineligible for Yale investment did not include either company, but as of Monday, [ExxonMobil and Chevron] have been added to the list without comment from the University.”

Financial Times – Influential asset owners group lifts its climate change game

“The UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, made up of 69 large institutions, said its members would aim to reduce emissions linked to their investments by between 49 per cent to 65 per cent by 2030, after including a broader range of carbon-intensive sectors within its target framework.”

Grist – Divestment campaigns — and reinvestment efforts — gain strength as climate change intensifies

“Ando, a new sustainable banking app, recently launched Divest101.com, the first centralized listing of the top 100 universities and their current status on divesting their endowment. The site not only provides real-time updates on which universities have divested but also provides resources and links for campus activists to leverage locally. ‘At Ando, we empower individuals everywhere to ‘divest’ their personal money from the fossil fuel banking system,’ says JP McNeill, the company’s CEO. ‘It makes complete sense that we support student and community activists in pursuing the same goal in higher education.’”