Did you hear the honks and see the signs? Last Saturday, more than 50 high school and college students and adults of all ages bookended Wellesley Square at the former Peet’s Coffee site where Chase Bank will soon open. The goal was to have a presence at the main access points of the Square and the Chase site to alert bikers, walkers, runners and drivers of the huge impact that the banking industry has on our climate crisis and its environmental justice implications.
“A new Chase Bank branch will be moving into where Peet’s Coffee was and we felt we would use this opportunity to raise awareness about the fact that JPMorgan Chase Bank provides far more overall funding worldwide for both current and new fossil fuel projects than any other bank in the world,” said Sydney Stearns, Wellesley College Sophomore. “Even though the fossil fuel sector is only a small percentage of Chase's portfolio, any funding to this industry is problematic for the future of our planet,” Stearns said.
Other banks in town scoring low on the corporate social and environmental responsibility list due to fossil fuel financing include Citi, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, RBC, and TD Bank.
In spite of the severe warnings from climate scientists and worldwide agreements for lowering carbon emissions in the 2016 Paris Climate Accord, Chase has since funded the carbon-polluting fossil fuel industry with more than $268 billion. Fossil fuels, especially from tar sands, are a major cause of climate chaos.
“This is part of a national campaign to hold Chase accountable for its complicity in the climate crisis,” said Natick High School student and member of the Sunrise Movement Hannah Takasaki. “We encourage anyone reading this to keep the pressure on until Chase completely stops funding the climate crisis by writing a review to tell Chase to fund a sustainable future. Since they are not alone at profiting at the expense of the environment, and often negatively impact communities of color the most, consider where you bank and which credit cards you hold,” Takasaki said.
The 350 Metrowest and Northern 350 organizers felt they had such an impact that they have decided to do it again on Saturday, April 17th and April 24th from 10.30-12pm. The organization is asking the community to learn more, share their knowledge and consider cutting up credit cards, closing accounts and selling shares of banks that support activities that fuel the climate crisis. Local community groups and individuals are encouraged to attend with masks and keeping physical distances. Meet at Wellesley Square @ 5-way Intersection of Rt. 135 & Rt. 16.