Climate Defiance activists disrupted an elite economics forum in Manhattan, forcefully confronting Federal Reserve Bank Chair Jerome Powell and demanding an end to fossil fuel financing.
At the Economic Club of New York, protesters stormed the stage holding a banner that read “Fed Is Burning: Money, Futures, Planet” and chanting “Off fossil finance!”
Powell, who was on stage, briefly left the event before returning to deliver his speech as planned. Security officials cleared protesters from the room.
The audacious protest was led by a 19-year-old college student, identified as “KH,” who accused Powell of evading his responsibilities as a climate criminal.
“I asked Chairman Powell a very simple question,” said KH. “Will you begin doing your job and start ending fossil fuel finance? Yet Powell, who sat only a few feet away from us, would rather flee and watch me get dragged by my wrists and ankles than answer this question. He would rather watch my friends get water splashed on them and thrown to the ground. He is a climate criminal and a coward.”
Climate activists argue that climate change poses one of the most significant financial risks to the global economic system.
KH highlighted the impact of climate chaos on New York City and criticized Powell for failing to take meaningful action.
“Jerome Powell and the Fed can stop this. He loves to say he will not be ‘a climate policymaker,’ but his job as mandated by Congress is to mitigate risks to the US financial system,” said KH.
Climate Defiance emphasizes the urgent need to stop polluting the atmosphere as justification for nonviolent disruption designed to compel politicians and financial institutions to act.
Conventional tactics will not suffice, according to Climate Defiance. “We need consistent, mass-turnout, nonviolent disruption to stop business as usual and compel politicians to act.”
“When we engage in direct action—whether through a strike, a blockade, or a mass occupation—we break through,” said Climate Defiance. “People see us. People tune in. People engage. Our movement grows.”
“Direct action puts the state in a double-bind: allow the action (and the disruption) to continue or crackdown, further driving up public support for the cause,” said Climate Defiance.
“The 60 largest banks have lent a shocking $5.5 trillion to the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Accord was signed. This is nothing short of a crime against humanity. Powell has the power and obligation to stop this,” said Climate Defiance.
“Powell could institute a 1:1 rule, requiring banks set aside a dollar of collateral for every dollar of fossil fuel financing they provide. Instead he refuses to even acknowledge the profound systemic risks posed by business-as-usual,” said Climate Defiance.
“The Fed’s main job is to ensure stability in our economic system. Has it occurred to Powell that the economy, and all life, would rapidly break down if we do not have a stable planet to inhabit? Jerome Powell, it is time to meet the moment. Do your job. Time is up,” said Climate Defiance.
“When we say that the Fed has the power to end fossil finance, we mean they are empowered to regulate U.S. banks – and can call on them cut off the flow of money to big polluters. The Fed’s influence extends around the world, as other central banks would likely follow their lead,” said Climate Defiance.
“We are fomenting a nonviolent revolution. We will stop the irreversible collapse of our ecosystem. We will hold those in power to account. We need good people from all walks of life to join us,” said Climate Defiance.
The group argues that direct action is the key to breaking through and gaining public support for the climate cause since the political process and a global scientific consensus hs failed to result in the necessary action.
Powell, as the head of the Federal Reserve, has the authority to influence U.S. banks and their financing of fossil fuel industries.
Climate Defiance claims that instituting a 1:1 rule, requiring banks to set aside collateral equal to the amount of fossil fuel financing they provide, could be a significant step toward addressing the climate crisis.
“The Fed’s main job is to ensure stability in our economic system. Has it occurred to Powell that the economy, and all life, would rapidly break down if we do not have a stable planet to inhabit? Jerome Powell, it is time to meet the moment. Do your job. Time is up,” declared Climate Defiance.
The movement aims to bring about a nonviolent revolution to prevent the irreversible collapse of the ecosystem and to hold those in power accountable. They emphasize that the influence of the Federal Reserve extends worldwide, as other central banks may follow its lead in addressing fossil financing.
For more information on Climate Defiance and its mission, you can visit their website at climatedefiance.org.
The confrontation with Jerome Powell reflects the growing urgency of climate activists and their determination to push for bold and immediate action to combat climate change. The incident underscores the pressing need for systemic changes and a shift towards a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future.