Petition to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond to act on Climate Crisis

President, First V.P., EVP and Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Study after study has marked high financial risk to our economy and to the world from accelerating climate change.   The Federal Reserve is the guardian of our financial system—particularly its banking sector. But faced with potential catastrophe which even its own staff has recognized, it has taken only the mildest of steps.   We urge that this posture be changed urgently and drastically. As a Regional Fed whose jurisdiction covers key coastal and river-littoral areas which are highly vulnerable to rising sea levels and storm surges, the Richmond Fed should be clamoring for action.

Climate change is now unquestioned (temperatures have already risen more than 2 degrees F from early industrial levels) and virtually no serious scientist disputes that the primary cause is human activity, in particular the burning of fossil fuels and the accompanying emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

The climate crisis brings acidifying oceans, species extinctions, droughts, wildfires and dangers to health and worker and agricultural productivity. But in our area the largest risk is the toll of rising sea levels and storm surges. These lead to inundation of coastal parcels, towns and cities. This in turn decreases the value of coastal real estate—potentially quickly and drastically. This decrease in turn leads to borrowers being “underwater” (literally and figuratively) which in turn has severe consequences for lenders. It also undermines the tax base of affected political jurisdictions.

Here are some examples of what could or already has happened:

  -- In Norfolk, sea level rise could be more than 6 feet by the end of the century. Its stormwater infrastructure has already lost 50 % of its capacity.

  --- Roads in locations like the Eastern Shore face permanent inundation within our lifetime.

 ---Towns in storm-swept coastal North Carolina are already being abandoned. Minority communities such as Princeville, NC have been devastated; the USG is buying up its homes.

---NOAA maintains a Sea-Level Rise Viewer. It shows that even with a modest two-foot rise, “inland” locations like Washington, DC, Richmond, VA and Greenville, NC would be impacted.

Fed Building in Richmond

Petition by
Max Gruenig
Charlottesville, Virginia
Sponsored by

To: President, First V.P., EVP and Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
From: Karen

We, the undersigned, petition the Federal Reserve to take action to counter the climate crisis.

We recognize that the Fed has been cautious because it wants to appear to be apolitical. But that’s an Orwellian misnomer. By ignoring established science and risk, the Fed is actually doing the political bidding of the GHG emitters.

CO2 and methane are neither red nor blue. The laws of physics don’t discriminate.
This has to stop. In recent years banks have lent trillions of dollars to the fossil fuel industry. In 2020 the amounts lent actually exceeded the amounts lent in the first year (2016) following the Paris Accords!

The Fed must do everything in its power to:

END BANK FOSSIL FINANCE by limiting and discouraging financing of the sector.

DIVEST AND INVEST to align Fed spending and asset purchases with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

PUSH BANKS TO INVEST in clean energy, conservation and other efforts to slow global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C.

STAFF UP TO STUDY CLIMATE IMPACTS AND MITIGATION—some work has been done but nowhere near enough and the public needs to know the truth.

ASK CONGRESS FOR ADDITIONAL AUTHORITY if needed, particularly in helping impacted, disadvantaged communities.