FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 2, 2021
Will Hodges, 350 Roaring Fork Team Coordinator (720) 365-1721
Julia Williams, Communications & Development Director (970) 948-1439
350 Roaring Fork Applauds City of Aspen for Action on Divestment Urges City to Divest from Wells Fargo
Aspen, Colo. — On Monday afternoon, the Aspen City Council continued their work to make sure their finances aren’t supporting the fossil fuels rapidly warming the planet. They committed to drop 3.1 million of their bonds in Berkshire Hathaway, with its significant holdings in coal and gas, which climate advocates say is a resounding solid step in the right direction for the future of Aspen’s investments. The Council affirmed their position not to buy bonds in Exxon and Chevron.
“The Aspen City Council has chosen the path of being climate champions and we applaud their actions and hope to see a continued progression of divestment from the dirty banks funding the climate crisis and infringing on the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous communities to the fossil fuel infrastructure ravaging unceded tribal territories.”said Amy Gray, Volunteer & JEDI Director – 350 Colorado
350 Roaring Fork team members who recently submitted a petition urging the Aspen City Council to divest its holdings in fossil fuels say that the remaining investment that should concern Aspen citizens is Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo is the second leading financier of fossil fuels, doling out $198 billion to coal, oil and gas production, transport and power generation since 2016. Only JP Morgan Chase spends more money on fossil fuel investments than Wells Fargo.
During Monday’s meeting, Councilman Skippy Mesirow wanted to know how Wells Fargo earns a high environmental rating from Insight Investing, Aspen’s investment advisor. Insight uses the ratings of MCSI, a data provider that evaluates companies on environmental, social and governance, or ESG, criteria. ESG investing is a new field and still more art than science.
“I applaud Aspen for its efforts to clean up its investments – they have gone further than many cities,” said Will Hodges, coordinator, 350 Roaring Fork. “We do however think Aspen is in a position to call out Wells Fargo for its role in financing the climate crisis. How MCSI gives high marks to the bank lending $45 billion a year to tar sands pipelines and fracking wells, I don’t understand. Wells Fargo is fueling the climate disaster. They are the second worst climate financier in the world, just behind Chase. In terms of sheer influence, which is worse? Exxon-Mobil or a bank which lends billions of dollars to the top 100 companies expanding fossil fuel development? The truth is, with how little time we have, banks like Wells Fargo could end fossil fuels tomorrow and put their money into climate solutions.”
350 Roaring Fork urges Aspen to ask its investment advisor how MCSI derives its ratings and consider consulting other data providers. The group urged them to consider buying securities in green companies, direct a modest sum towards this transition to low carbon energy for the sake of our children’s future, and formalize what is right now an ad hoc exclusion of fossil fuel companies.
Forty-four cities are among the 1,246 universities, foundations, faith groups and pension funds which have committed to divesting from coal, oil and gas companies. The campaign is increasingly bringing attention to the outsized role of banks, insurance companies and asset managers in financing and underwriting the climate crisis.
According to the Rainforest Action Network’s Banking on Climate 2020 Report, Wells Fargo is the second leading financier of fossil fuels after JP Morgan Chase. The top four banks, all American banks, are responsible for a full 30% of all credit and other services to coal, oil and gas interests.
About 350 Roaring Fork:
350 Roaring Fork is the valley’s local chapter of 350 Colorado, a nonprofit organization working to help build the global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis and transition to a sustainable future. Visit: https://350colorado.org/roaringfork/ or find us on Facebook: @350roaringfork.