Posted on April 26th, 2022

The following remarks were made by Giselle Herzfeld and Kevin Cross at the Earth Day Picnic, March and Rally held at the Colorado State Capitol and the Denver Federal Reserve Building on Earth Day.

Giselle Herzfeld, 350 Colorado

If you had a choice between investing your money in destruction and pollution or investing it into a healthy and safe future, which would you choose?

American banks have been funneling our money into oil and gas projects that are contaminating our drinking water and our air, making us sick, and fueling the climate crisis. 

If only these banks had a referee that could stop them from making bad decisions.

Oh wait. Guess what? They DO! That referee is called the Federal Reserve and its job is to manage risk and avert catastrophes. But instead of doing its job, the Fed has allowed banks to fund fossil fuel companies to the tune of $1.2 trillion over the past 5 years since the Paris Agreement. 

If banks continue to fund fossil fuel projects, by 2050, we can expect $23 trillion in global economic losses as a result of the climate crisis.

Today on Earth Day, we’re mobilizing all across America to say enough is enough! Our lives matter, our health matters, our future matters. The Federal Reserve must immediately steer banks away from fossil fuels to avert climate catastrophe.

The Climate Crisis does not impact everyone equally. The painful truth is that the people who have contributed the least to the climate crisis are suffering the most from its impacts. Around the world, millions of people are being displaced from their homes every year due to natural disasters such as storms, floods, fires, droughts, and these disasters are increasing in number every year. A recent World Bank report predicts that over 200 million people are likely to migrate over the next three decades because of extreme weather events or environmental degradation. Here in Colorado, the Marshall fire destroyed over a thousand homes and displaced thousands of people. Today is the 18th consecutive day with a Red Flag Warning in Colorado. This is unprecedented, especially in April in what is meant to be one of the wettest seasons of the year. 

We are at a crucial point in history where we can still keep global warming under 1.5 degrees census and avert the worst of the climate catastrophe, but it will take a massive overhaul of the institutions that are driving this crisis to a breaking point. 

Thank you for joining me today, as we call on the Federal Reserve to treat the climate crisis as the emergency that it is, and to spend our money on a just transition and green new deal! 

Kevin Cross, Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate

Props to Colorado Governors and to our legislature, who first acknowledged that we have a problem and set climate goals way back in 2008.  That’s when Governor Bill Ritter set a goal of 20% greenhouse gas pollution reductions by 2020 compared to 2005 levels.

Alas, we didn’t do so well on achieving that goal.  In 2019 – the last year for which data is available – Colorado’s greenhouse gas pollution was down only 9% compared to 2005 – about half of the reductions that Governor Ritter had committed to.

We can take comfort from the fact that our legislature and governor have approved numerous bills related to protecting the climate since 2019.  Yet much more needs to be done if we are to actually achieve the new goals adopted by our state government for 2025 and 2030.

That, of course, is where all of us come in.  Politicians at all levels are easily distracted by immediate crises, cash and threats from the fossil fuel industry, and media that by and large do not take the climate crisis as seriously as they should.  Here are some things you can do:

  1. Read Jan Rose’s weekly legislative updates – which are posted prominently on the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate website – and communicate your support for key climate bills to your legislators regularly.
  2. Tell your utility providers and the PUC that you want them to close coal plants now and prepare to transition away from using fracked gas to run power plants and heat buildings asap.
  3. Tell the COGCC that we need to end fossil fuel extraction in our state by 2030.
  4. Finally, tell your friends in other states what you’re doing, and encourage them to do similar things where they live.

We don’t have another decade to lose.  Incremental change won’t preserve a livable climate for our children or for ourselves.  We all need to think and act boldly to protect the climate.