Climate Advocates Demand Action from Fed, Chase, Others Ahead of COP26

CHICAGO, IL – Dozens of people from across the Midwest braved the rain and cold in Chicago Friday afternoon to demand that the Federal Reserve and Chase Bank end their financing of the fossil fuel industry. They joined a national youth-led Fossil-Free Future Day of Action targeting the institutions bankrolling dirty energy projects, ahead of the UN’s COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow that begins Sunday.

The demonstrators began in Pritzker Park, with several speakers noting the Midwest’s historic drought and wildfires this summer and deadly extreme weather events worldwide. 

“We’re here to demand accountability from the institutions responsible for funding our climate crisis,” said protest organizer and speaker Owen Levens. “For too long, the ignominious banking behemoths have poured trillions of dollars into dirty energy projects. They burn our land, they choke our skies, and they poison our water. We call an end to this strife! We demand that our economic institutions put their money where our future is: in community-led solutions already building our vibrant, fossil-free future.”

Rose Gomez, of Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO), discussed local fights against pollution: “We need immediate action on both climate and environmental justice. There is no more time. We’ve waited too long. For instance, in my community of Pilsen, we have organized so that our children and neighbors can breathe clean air. Metal shredding company Sims has miserably failed to control its air pollution, so now we have Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul stepping in to tell them to stop and that they cannot pollute with impunity!”

Demonstrators took their message to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, where they performed a brief street theater skit where plants and animals defended a water spirit from zombie fossil fuel bankers funding a dead, outdated industry. Larry Coble of 350 Chicago spoke to demand that the Fed align its spending, asset purchases, and regulatory actions with the United States’ Paris Agreement goals. 

Marchers then filled LaSalle Street on their way to Chase Tower, where they entered on the lower level to set up a “House of Climate Horrors” for which the bank was responsible. Within minutes, they were forcefully removed by Chicago Police and building security. The group then occupied the plaza and spoke about banks’ and U.S. military roles in environmental disasters locally and globally.

Levens added, “We are building the future we want, with clean air and water, just food systems, strong workers’ rights and protections, and healthcare and accessible transit options for all…. We are dreaming bigger and better than these institutions are, and they need to get on board!”

The Chicago action was organized by a coalition of Midwest climate organizations, including Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO), Fridays for Future, Sunrise Movement Chicago, Rising Tide Chicago, 350 Chicago, 350 Madison, New Era Young Lords, Extinction Rebellion Chicago, Nuclear Energy Information Service, Chicago Area Peace Action, and Oak Park Climate Action Network. The global day of action was organized by Future Coalition, a network of youth activists.


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