Fridays for Future protests at banks and ECB

August 16, 2021|Written by |European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Swiss National Bank

Thousands of climate protestors marched through Frankfurt’s financial district on Friday, demanding an immediate end to the financing of climate-changing fossil coal, oil and gas by German banks and the European Central Bank (ECB). Organised by Fridays for Future, the global climate movement led by Greta Thunberg, protesters marched past the ECB headquarters holding banners with messages such as “Planet over profit”, “Don’t burn our future” and “Stop investing in climate killers”.

Young people from Fridays for Future were joined by activists from a wide variety of climate-focused civil society groups, including Greenpeace, Urgewald, KoalaKollektiv, Seebrücke, Endegebiet and the ver.di youth. Masked protesters dressed in suits set alight a large Deutsche Bank logo outside the bank’s headquarters and roads were blocked across Frankfurt as climate protesters targeted major banks, financial institutions and the ECB demanding that investment in fossil fuels end now.

In a joint statement accompanying the protests, climate groups Reclaim Finance, 350.org, Greenpeace and KoalaKollektiv called for the ECB to strengthen its climate strategy and speed up its implementation timeline. The central bank must align its collateral framework, corporate asset purchases and refinancing operations with EU climate objectives and the Paris Agreement, they recommend, while accelerating the overall implementation timeline outlined in its recently-released strategic review.

“The ECB should immediately exclude fossil fuel companies that do not align with the Paris Agreement from their asset purchases and adopt and champion a precautionary approach to climate risks,” the statement said, calling on the ECB to adapt all operations as soon as possible to reflect the risk of stranded assets and to confirm the integration of climate risk metrics into the ECB’s own ratings.

Pointing to last Monday’s IPCC AR6 devastating report showing dangerous and accelerating climate breakdown as a result of fossil fuel and other greenhouse gas emissions, Greenpeace called on the ECB to “take immediate action and preventive measures, without any delay… and stop funding climate killers now.”

Protest organisers estimated that 15,000 people from 70 cities attended the protests, despite transportation disruption from a German rail strike. Organisers worked with the Frankfurt Health Department to provide hygienic and Covid-19 safe overnight facilities for 1,000 people, and participants were required to use masks and to bring a vaccination certificate or a negative test.

The Frankfurt protests are the latest in a series targeting financial institutions and central banks for their slow and inadequate action on climate, including a protest last week outside the Swiss National Bank (SNB) which also demanded an immediate end to financial support for fossil fuel companies and activities.

Further protests focusing on bank and central bank support for fossil fuels are expected in both the UK and the US next week. Direct action climate group Extinction Rebellion is planning two weeks of protest targeting the City of London for its investment in the fossil fuel burning behind the escalating climate crisis. The Extinction Rebellion protests, which will include “occupations”, will begin on August 23rd.

Separately, US climate activists will begin a coordinated campaign on August 26th at the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium, an annual gathering of Federal Reserve and economic officials in Wyoming. The campaign will focus on  opposing the re-nomination of Jerome Powell as Federal Reserve Chair, given his lack of focus or action in response to the climate emergency.

This page was last updated August 26, 2021

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