US treasurers warn Kerry not to pressure banks on climate
Treasurers from 15 U.S. states have warned U.S. climate envoy John Kerry in a letter that they may withdraw assets from any banks that are cutting lending to fossil fuel companies, following reports that the The Biden administration lobbied financial institutions for such loans.
Riley Moore, state treasurer of coal and natural gas production in West Virginia, said the Biden administration’s efforts, if passed, would cripple fossil fuel companies and threaten jobs thousands of workers in his state.
States would consider how the banks handle the matter “before entering into or extending any contracts” with them, says the letter led by Riley and signed by the treasurers of Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states, sent on Tuesday. in Kerry.
“We intend to make banks and financial institutions aware of our position, as we urge them not to give in to pressure from the Biden administration,” the letter says, noting that states hold billions of dollars. of assets in US banks.
The State Department said financial institutions make their own decisions. “At no time did Secretary Kerry press financial institutions to make commitments; on the contrary, many financial institutions contacted (Kerry) to initiate conversations about the financial risks and potential opportunities involved. to climate change, ”a spokesperson for the department said.
The administration has not issued any orders that penalize U.S. banks for lending to fossil fuel producers, but has been pushing for restrictions.
Last week, President Joe Biden called on federal agencies to assess and mitigate the risks climate change poses to businesses and the U.S. financial system.
Climate activists said the executive order sent a powerful signal to U.S. banks, insurance companies and asset managers to stop funding fossil fuel projects. Read more
Together, the 15 states signed to the letter manage at least $ 600 billion in government accounts, said Jared Hunt, assistant treasurer-director of communications at the West Virginia Treasury.
In April, Republican senators, including Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, wrote a letter to Kerry saying that if the administration wants to cut fossil fuel production, it “should not abuse financial regulators” but seek to change the rules. laws by Congress.
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