ALBANY — More than 100 religious leaders and conservationists across New York state on Friday called for an end to corporate investment in fossil fuel projects.
Protesters called on all major banks, insurance companies, asset managers and institutional investors to immediately suspend financing and insurance of new fossil fuel projects and realign their business interests by investing in clean and renewable energy .
“We don’t expect them to change their business practices today, but hopefully they will begin to understand that there is significant and growing opposition to what they are doing, and that they need to take bold and decisive action in the future,” said John Seakwood, one of the protest organizers.
Leading the procession were the Red Rebel Brigade, a performance art troupe that raises awareness of the global environmental crisis, and bagpiper Andrew Forbes. Protesters marched from Academy Park, past the TD Bank at State and Eagle Street, then to East Capitol Park.
“As we walked into the bank, the branch manager came out and she was surprised to be greeted by a delegation of religious leaders and environmental activists,” Seakwood said. “There was no confrontation at all. We spoke calmly but firmly and told him that TD Bank should stop investing in fossil fuel projects because it was immoral.
Protesters sang songs as a delegation of religious leaders delivered a public letter to the TD Bank branch.
The letter included a request to cut fossil fuel investments and an explanation of the reasons, Seakwood added. The branch manager said she would forward the letter.
“The protest was aimed at TD Bank as a symbol of major financial institutions and the environmental calamities associated with their investments in the extraction, production and distribution of fossil fuels,” said organizer Michael Richardson.
Several religious leaders have spoken of the moral imperative to stop the destruction of the climate.
“The moral precepts of our various religions, value systems and codes of ethics compel us to speak out against the sanctity of our common Earth and against the unjust recklessness of the development of new fossil fuels,” said Marjorie McCoy of Village Zendo, a Buddhist shrine in Lower Manhattan, and a resident of Ghent.
Proponents have said that not only are fossil fuels harmful to the environment, but also to the children of tomorrow.
“The moral imperative is clear: it is unethical to steal the future from future generations,” said Reverend Leonisa Ardizzone of the Unitarian Universalist Earth Ministry and Rosendale resident.
Big business investments in fossil fuels are dangerous for small rural towns that have few resources to defend against the impacts of climate change, protesters have said.
“Imposing impossible burdens on frontline communities and stealing the future from future generations is immoral and must stop,” said Reverend Jeffrey Courter of the New York Presbytery’s Justice Ministries Committee.
According to the most recent reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the recognized authority on human-induced climate change, the world must take swift and bold action to reverse our dependence to fossil fuels in order to avert a climate catastrophe, according to the letter from the protesters.