A now-viral video captured security officers wrestling a protester to the floor in the lobby of the Jackson Lake Lodge in Wyoming outside the Federal Reserve’s annual conference. This same group, Climate Defiance, also disrupted a speech by Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, at the Economic Club of New York this fall and showed up at Mr. Powell’s speech at the International Monetary Fund in early November.
The activist behind the protest group, Michael Greenberg, founded Climate Defiance in the spring. Their focus is to push for change at institutions like the Fed through disruptive direct action. Some climate-focused groups argue that the Fed should play a major role in preparing the financial system for the damaging effects of climate change. They want it to discourage bank lending to fossil fuel companies and regulate lending to make it cost-prohibitive for such companies.
However, the Fed is unwilling and possibly unable to put such heavy restrictions in place as it could jeopardize its independence and risk political backlash. The Fed is carefully attempting to balance their attention to climate change while remaining outside partisan debates and avoiding overstepping its boundaries set by Congress.
While some think the Fed has taken meaningful steps to improve climate-related policy, others argue that it needs to be more proactive, comparing it to other central banks like the European Central Bank and the Bank of England. Climate Defiance has targeted the Fed due to its role in regulating some of the nation’s largest financial institutions and aims to bring attention to the group’s lack of action.
The Fed has introduced some climate-related actions, but they are not as comprehensive as what some overseas counterparts are doing. The political divide between Democrats and Republicans seems to be holding the Fed back from making bolder moves regarding climate change. Therefore, the Fed is taking a cautious approach due to political reality and its own innate caution.