JPMorgan Chase just released their 2030 climate targets -- and they are devastatingly bad, with devious accounting on carbon. Even the International Energy Agency says we cannot afford to invest another penny in new fossil fuel expansion. JPMC, Wells Fargo and CitiGroup have each put more than $200 billion into fossil fuel interests in the past five years, and Big Oil is forging ahead using these investments. In fact, ExxonMobil intends to increase carbon emissions. So why are we hearing all about carbon emission reductions from Big Banks, Big Oil and our utilities? 

It’s called “greenwashing”.

In 2019, Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil over the company’s misinformation campaign to delay action to address climate change. And on Earth Day this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new lawsuit against Exxon, Shell, BP, and the American Petroleum Institute for violating their Consumer Protection Law through false advertising and deceptive trade practices. A new Harvard study details how Big Oil has used both disinformation and individual responsibility arguments to deflect from actual increases in fossil fuel infrastructure. In recent articles, Amy Westervelt in Rolling Stone and Bill MckKibben in the New Yorker expose the insidious nature of greenwashing tactics. 

In Massachusetts we have seen another greenwashing partner-in-crime: EVERSOURCE. Its new CEO is all for renewable energy but the company just purchased Columbia Gas and plans to renew long-term gas contracts and spend billions upgrading gas infrastructure. Emissions from gas account for 40% of all carbon emissions in the two states where Eversource sells gas, according to the EPA. Electrification with renewable sources is a state-mandated priority, but E&E News brought to light the fact that Eversource is in a coalition working to stymie building electrification, and reported further on June 1 that this is part of an organized effort by utilities around the country to prevent municipalities from passing gas bans.   

So what can we do? 

In an effort to call out Eversource, local climate activists produced a parody PR video, followed by a second parody greenwashing video exposing the hypocrisy of Eversource.

In the last two weeks activist shareholders have also had important successes. Exxon has at least two new climate activist board members and Chevron shareholders voted in favor of including Scope 3 emissions. Thanks to a lawsuit by Friends of the Earth, Netherlands, in a major blow to Royal Dutch Shell, the seventh-largest climate-polluting fossil fuel company in the world, the Dutch court ruled the company must dramatically reduce its carbon emissions - 45% by 2030.

ClientEarth is also now calling on policymakers to ban all fossil fuel company ads unless they come with tobacco-style health warnings about the risks of global heating to people and the planet. 

And Stop the Money Pipeline has ramped up its campaigns, calling on shareholders and account holders to use their consumer power to call out the financial purveyors of climate chaos, most recently calling on banks to defund Line 3. 

350 Mass has participated in a number of actions. Our working group Stop and Steer the Money, along with our direct action working group Climate Courage, has committed to ongoing protests, actionars and direct actions against JP Morgan Chase, BlackRock, and insurance enabler, Liberty Mutual. We recently did a joint action calling for Chase, Bank of America and TD Bank to #defundLine3, and next week we will be delivering a “greenwashing award” to JPMC branch managers throughout Massachusetts. Join us

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I am a climate activist. I believe climate solutions must be intersectional and lead toward a better society. I am doing my best. How about you?