Climate protestors block entrances to Citi HQ

Dozens of protestors clogged up the entrance to the Citibank headquarters on Greenwich and Beach for two hours yesterday morning, blocking employees from entering the building in one of the more effective protests against the bank’s financing of fossil fuel companies. Police took 23 people into custody and issued summonses for disorderly conduct; one was arrested for obstructing governmental administration. And while the crowd dispersed, the police kept a presence there until late in the afternoon.

All these excellent photos come from Tribecan Robert Ripps.

Protestors from Extinction Rebellion come around to Citi regularly, though this was the biggest crowd they have ever gathered, bringing in more resources from New York Communities for Change. This is all in advance of Climate Week, which starts Sunday. Their tag line is Denial = Death.

The groups are demanding that the bank release plans to wind down its financing of the fossil fuel industry and to cease its support for fossil fuel expansion. They aren’t the only ones. The Financial Times reported in August that the UN has warned banks including Citi and Goldman Sachs that their continued financing of the world’s biggest corporate emitter of greenhouse gases — Saudi Aramco — could result in global human rights violations because of the company’s contribution to climate change.

They are also circulating a petition that demands that Wall Street banks stop funding methane gas projects in the Gulf states, mainly Texas and Louisiana. “Citibank has pumped over $8.6 billion into the world’s top methane gas companies and projects, making the bank the second-largest methane gas financier in the world. Meanwhile, Gulf communities contend with intensifying hurricanes, torrential flooding, severe drought, and the risk of explosion from these dangerous terminals,” the petition reads.

For its part, Citi executives invited representatives of the groups to speak directly with Citi’s chief sustainability officer, according to the organization Climate Votes. However, Extinction Rebellion declined, saying in a tweet, “It’s time for action, not more talk. @Citi has an opportunity to act next week, when a shareholder resolution explicitly about ending expansion is up for a vote.”

In March 2021, Citi made a commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including in its own operations by 2030. “A net zero commitment means working with our clients and helping them in their own low-carbon transitions,” their website says.

Climate Votes, a group of climate finance specialists that engage with institutional investors to use shareholder power for climate action, argues that the plan “does not mention any plans to phase out fossil fuels, by far the leading cause of climate change. Citigroup is the second largest financier of fossil fuels among all global banks, having poured $285 billion into the sector between 2016 and 2021. It is also the leading financier of coal in the US.”