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Citigroup Funds Climate Chaos as the World’s Second Biggest Funder of Fossil Fuels

WASHINGTON, D.C.–People’s Action today hosted a two-part protest action against Citigroup Board Chairman John Dugan to demand Citigroup stop funding fossil fuel projects. Citigroup is the world’s second biggest funder of fossil fuels and the biggest funder of coal in the United States. The financial corporation’s actions show that its leaders put profits over the well-being of people and the planet, even as record wildfires, heat waves, storms, and related climate shocks rock communities around the globe. 

“I am here to send a message to John Dugan to take responsibility for this man-made crisis,” PUSH Buffalo member leader Charlene Redrick said. “In my 64 years in Buffalo, I never saw a blizzard like what we had last Christmas. I was trapped in my house. 47 people in my community died, including a 13 year-old child who was found in a snowbank on the street. Mr. Dugan and Citi must step up today to cut off money to fossil fuels.”

People’s Action members and allies organized a “wake-up call” at Dugan’s home at 7 a.m. this morning. Participants rang his doorbell and shared their heartfelt personal experiences with extreme weather, fossil fuel pollution, and fear for future generations. They urged him to be a climate leader and divest Citigroup from fossil fuel projects. The group then staged a second, 1000-person protest at Covington & Burling LLP, a D.C.-based law firm where Dugan is a partner. They erected oil barrels emblazoned with Dugan’s face and the words, “Citi Funds Climate Chaos,” outside the building and picketed Dugan’s law office. 

“A few weeks ago, the East Coast woke up to a red sun and brown skies. The same masks we wore to protect ourselves from a deadly virus are now being used to protect us from poisonous air,” Connecticut Citizen Action Group staff member Helen Humphreys said. “Standing with 1000 people, we’re powerful, especially when we call out people like John Dugan. His children deserve to grow up with breathable air, now it is up to him to decide whether they will.”

People’s Action singled out Dugan due to his unique role at Citi and his revolving-door history with the U.S. government and Wall Street. As George W. Bush’s comptroller of the currency, Dugan helped Citi get an extra $20 billion while the government was already bailing out the financial industry during the 2008 crisis. During Dugan’s time as chair, Citi has engaged in an extensive greenwashing campaign to burnish its public image but continues to pump billions into damaging fossil fuel projects. Dugan also plays a leading role at the Bipartisan Policy Center where he seeks to influence government policy. 

“Given the unprecedented amount and intensity of climate-driven disasters occurring around the world in the last few years, it is past time for Citigroup to get real and stop financing the fossil fuel industry,” People’s Action Climate Justice campaign director Sophia Cheng said. “Citigroup and its leadership need to decide if it will transform the financial industry by actually being a climate champion or if it will continue its deceptive greenwashing tactics.”  

Citi is among the biggest financial backers of the world’s worst polluters including ExxonMobil, BP, and Saudi Aramco. Since the Paris Climate Accord was adopted in late 2015, Citi directed nearly $333 billion to finance fossil fuels. It is also among the lenders for the Willow project in Alaska, dubbed a “carbon bomb” that is equivalent to 76 coal-fired power plants.

The action was part of People’s Action’s convention and one of four direct actions focused on issues impacting poor and working people, including housing, health care, climate, and the overdose crisis.

Photos and videos from the action may be found here.

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People’s Action builds the power of poor and working people in urban, rural, and suburban areas to win change through issue fights and elections. We are a national network of 40 state and local grassroots power-building organizations in 29 states–united in the work of building a bigger “we.”

Contact: Johanna Kichton, press@peoplesaction.org, 202.660.0605

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Press Contact
Johanna Kichton

(202) 660-0605

About People’s Action Institute

Over five decades, People’s Action Institute and our affiliates have fought for reforms that recognize poor and working people’s dignity and make material and political improvements to millions of lives. Our victories include the Community Reinvestment Act, Superfund, the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act and the MAT Act.

We engage in issue campaigns, public education and training to advance a long-term agenda for racial, economic and gender justice. Our focus now is on deepening community organizing so we can build lasting power across the country. 

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