New Report Highlights the Gendered and Racial Impacts of the Fossil Fuel Industry in North America and Complicit Financial Institutions
Immediate Release— As apocalyptic scenes of increasing fires, floods, and heatwave continue to proliferate, it is clear that the climate crisis is accelerating. As part of national and global efforts to lower carbon emissions and halt the worst effects of the crisis, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) has released a 100-page report spotlighting the intersections of gender, race, and the fossil fuel industry and complicit financial institutions in a call for immediate divestment from fossil fuels to protect communities and our global climate.
The report explicitly exposes the role that financial institutions, including banks, asset managers, and insurance companies, play in preserving and perpetuating negative gender and racial impacts through focusing on 8 regional case studies, from the fracking fields of Kern County in California to Cancer Alley in Louisiana. The report spotlights Vanguard, BlackRock, Capital Group, JPMorgan Chase, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of America, and Liberty Mutual as primary financiers of harmful fossil fuel projects within the regional case studies.
The Gendered and Racial Impacts of the Fossil Fuel Industry in North America and Complicit Financial Institutions, is a second edition of the report with new case studies and data, addressing the disproportionate gender and race-specific health and safety effects as well as human and Indigenous rights issues of fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure in the United States and selected parts of Canada— interlocking issues that have been sorely neglected in the discourse regarding fossil fuel extraction.
All seven of these financial institutions have voiced support of the Paris Agreement and human rights via public statements or by signing various international frameworks, yet, these financial institutions continue to fund companies whose operations are disproportionately harming women and communities of color, while also violating Indigenous rights and furthering the climate crisis.
Women face increased risks of breast cancer, ovarian diseases, and risk to pregnancies related to air pollution and water contamination caused by the fossil fuel industry. This report provides scientific evidence highlighting these and many other disproportionate health impacts women experience from fossil fuel pollution. For example, proximity to fracking has been linked to adverse birth outcomes, including premature births and high risk pregnancies.
“Everything is intersectional. Financiers of oil and gas need to understand how their support of polluting actors on the ground have cost us our own and our babies’ health,'' states Roishetta Ozane, Community Organizer for Healthy Gulf.
The report also brings attention to the connection between Man Camps, temporary housing sites set up for construction workers along pipeline routes, and the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People (MMIWG2S).
Crystal Cavalier-Keck (Occaneechi and of the Saponi Nation), Co-Founder of Seven Directions of Service and Chair of Environmental Justice Committee for the NAACP, states: “The fossil fuel companies have these campers who stay in the campgrounds— these men who work on the pipeline. They look at us as less than… they look at us as expendable, disposable. They don’t value women at all. They honestly think women are second class citizens.”
The report also lays out the various risks financial institutions are exposed to, including regulatory risks, stranded assets, physical and transition risks of the climate crisis, and reputational risks. The report recommends financial institutions adopt bolder policies and robust implementation standards and due diligence on climate and human rights issues. It also advocates for a just transition to a renewable, regenerative energy economy that uplifts communities most impacted by environmental degradation, pollution, and the climate crisis.
Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director of WECAN and co-author of the report states further the need for connecting the dots between women’s rights, fossil fuels, and complicit financial institutions, “The fossil fuel industry, and their financiers, are leading us further down the path of irreparable climate disaster, and we need to understand who is being harmed first and worst by their actions. If we want to truly address the climate crisis we must lead with climate justice and that means understanding the gendered and racial impacts of the fossil fuel industry. Women are rising to stand up and end the violence against the earth and women. Through the report we are calling on financial institutions to be leaders in a Just Transition by taking action to halt the financing of fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure, which is causing egregious harms to frontline women and communities. We want no more sacrifice women, no more sacrifice zones, and no more sacrifice zip codes. The fossil fuel era is over and the time is now to transition to renewable, regenerative energy, and a healthy and equitable future for all.”
Thursday, September 22 at 1pm Eastern Time, WECAN will be hosting a virtual event, “Women Leading Fossil Fuel Divestment and Resistance,” to highlight the divestment report and women leaders fighting fossil fuel extraction and harmful projects. Register and learn more here. Speakers who are featured in the report will make panel presentations including, Roishetta Ozane, Community Organizer for Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas, Healthy Gulf, and Gaagigeyaashiik - Dawn Goodwin (Ojibwe/White Earth), Representative at Indigenous Environmental Network and Co-founder of R.I.S.E. Coalition; 1855 Treaty. They will be joined by Dr. Laalitha Surapaneni, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, General Internal Medicine, University of Minnesota; Jodie Evans, Co-Founder, CODEPINK; Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director, Amazon Watch; and Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN).
If you are interested in learning more about the report, speaking with affected frontline women, please contact Markeya Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org, 929-248-0821.
The report, organized by Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, began with an investigation into fossil fuel extraction, and infrastructure projects across the United States and in a few locations in Canada. Based on the initial collection of research, eight regions with large fossil fuel projects and/or high concentrations of fossil fuel infrastructure were identified. The information presented on the companies and their projects is not exhaustive, but rather focuses on specific information relevant to the scope of the report. Based on an examination of companies operating in the eight regions, seven financial institutions are identified as prominent financiers, insurers, and investors of these companies. This report is based on the analysis of first-hand women’s accounts, peer-reviewed scientific articles, and other published papers. The data presented is limited to our own research investigation. We believe that the research we have presented opens the door to the import of further research on the subject nationally and globally.
The Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International
www.wecaninternational.org - @WECAN_INTL
The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International is a 501(c)3 and solutions-based organization established to engage women worldwide in policy advocacy, on-the-ground projects, trainings, and movement building for global climate justice.