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Elder-led protesters want banks to stop financing fossil fuels

Protesters at Trade and Tryon streets in uptown Charlotte Tuesday called on large banks to stop financing fossil fuel-related projects. It was one of a nationwide series of protests organized by Third Act.
David Boraks
/
WFAE
Protesters at Trade and Tryon streets in uptown Charlotte Tuesday called on large banks to stop financing fossil fuel-related projects. It was one of a nationwide series of protests organized by Third Act.

A climate protest in uptown Charlotte on Tuesday called on Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other large banks to stop financing fossil fuel-related businesses.

About 35 people attended the event at Trade and Tryon streets, carrying signs saying "Banks of America Stop Digging Our Grave" and "Stop Dirty Banks." The protest was one of more than 80 nationwide, organized by the over-60 climate organization Third Act and other groups.

Climate change is usually thought of as a carbon and other greenhouse-gases problem, but groups like Third Act are trying to highlight something else fueling the problem: dollars. In a 2022 report "Banking on Climate Chaos," researchers from a half-dozen climate groups found that large banks have increased investments in fossil fuel-related businesses to $4.6 trillion since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.

The Rev. Amy Brooks of Charlotte called on banks to halt investment in fossil-fuel projects
David Boraks
/
WFAE
The Rev. Amy Brooks of Charlotte called on banks to halt investment in fossil-fuel projects

The Rev. Amy Brooks of the group GreenFaith said Bank of America and Wells have rejected calls to halt fossil-fuel funding.

"Instead, they want to continue funding. And that funding will keep us tied to fossil fuels for 20 to 30 years in the future," Brooks said.

Protesters pretended to cut in half a large cardboard credit card with the names of Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Bank of America, banks the research says are the four largest financiers of fossil fuel projects.

Similar protests were held in Greensboro, Asheville and Chapel Hill, as well as other cities from New York to Los Angeles.

The protests came a day after the United Nations issued a new report authored by scientists from around the world that reiterated the warning that climate change is "a threat to human well-being and planetary health."

Protesters cut a large cardboard credit card in half to symbolize their unhappiness with major banks that invest in fossil-fuel projects.
David Boraks
/
WFAE
Protesters cut a large cardboard credit card in half to symbolize their unhappiness with major banks that invest in fossil-fuel projects.

The primary protest organizer, Third Act, grew out of another group called 350.org. Both were founded by the author and environmental activist Bill McKibben. Holli Adams, of Charlotte, said the group offers an outlet for residents over age 60 who want to get involved.

"There's a lot of folks in the Third Act movement that sort of has morphed out of 350.org that are coming forward. Elders and baby boomers are coming forward to really do something for the future for their children and their grandchildren," Adams said.

Bank of America declined to comment. Wells Fargo said in a statement that it is committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, including the companies it finances.

"Wells Fargo believes that climate change is one of the most urgent environmental and social issues of our time. We have set a goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions — including client emissions attributable to our financing — by 2050. We are committed to reaching our goals and to supporting our clients in traditional energy, as well as the renewable energy sector, to facilitate an orderly energy transition and a sustainable future," the company said.

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.
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