Loyola’s Student Environmental Alliance Joins Fossil Fuel Financing Strike

Loyola students joined Fridays For Future, a youth advocacy group, Sept. 15.

Loyola’s Student Environmental Alliance joined Fridays For Future Chicago, a youth advocacy group for climate justice, on the frontlines to encourage putting an end to fossil fuel financing Sept. 15.

The groups, consisting of high school and college students, marched through The Loop and Pritzker Park and rallied in front of notable banks, particularly JPMorgan Chase & Co., to demand the banks stop investing in fossil fuels. 

JPMorgan Chase is the number one contributor to fossil fuel financing at $434 billion as of 2022, exceeding other mega-banks by millions, according to Banking on Climate Chaos

Fossil fuels are one of the biggest contributors to global warming, land degradation and pollution, according to The National Resources Defence Council. The fossil fuel industry remains extremely profitable, making it attractive for banks to invest in, according to the council. 

Selo Giloey, a second-year environmental science major, said he sees it’s vital for the world to come together and work to stop climate change. 

“The world is on its edge, and we have to be doing anything possible to make sure we can facilitate some kind of future on this planet,” Giloey said. 

Giloey said he came to Loyola partly due to its sustainability commitments, and he’s now involved in SEA, Restoration Club and the Students for Sustainable Energy Through Anaerobic Design. 

Giloey said he urges other students to get involved and make their voice heard. 

“The fight for Gen Z is really important because not only is it our own future but the future of our children and our children’s children,” Giloey said. 

SEA board members advertised the strike through flyers and urged students to join them in the fight. The SEA had a turnout of 50 students who went on to join the larger crowd in The Loop. 

Thomas Crabtree, a third-year environmental policy major and member of the SEA board, spoke to protestors outside JPMorgan Chase Bank about his disappointment with the lack of sustainability progress. 

“I have been living in the climate crisis for 20 years now,” Crabtree said. “It’s the only reality that I have ever experienced, and it’s not one that I chose.”

Crabtree pointed his frustration at mega-banks, who he said funnel trillions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry

“Climate change is the curse of the previous generations that we are now forced to endure,” he said. “The people that are responsible are attempting to pass it on to us.”

With fossil fuel funding reaching record heights, protestors chanted that the banks are to blame. JPMorgan Chase is first in fossil fuel financing while Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America take the second through fourth places with billions of dollars being funneled by each bank, respectively, according to the Fossil Fuel Finance Report. 

“We provide financing all across the energy sector: supporting energy security, helping clients accelerate their low carbon transitions and increasing clean energy financing with a target of $1 trillion for green initiatives by 2030,” JPMorgan Chase wrote in a statement to The Phoenix.

Fossil fuels are the main contributor to the climate crisis, according to Amnesty International. The organization wrote, unless significant reductions in fossil fuel usage are seen, global warming could reach catastrophic levels. This issue is classified as urgent where the apparent solution is for big corporations to scale back on their fossil fuel investments, according to Bank on our Future.

Along with the presence of students at the strike, worried citizens also came to voice their concerns with the state of the climate. 

Stacey Rustin, a 66-year-old retired nurse of 40 years, joined the march due to her growing concern for the future of the earth. 

“I am here today because I am worried about my grandchildren,” Rustin said. “Everyone should be thinking in an environmental way if they want the Earth to be here in decent shape.”

Since retiring, Rustin said she puts her efforts into pushing for positive change so she can maintain a liveable Earth for those who come after her. She said she thinks the future is not guaranteed and in order to see a future of this planet, change must be made now. 

Activist for Fridays for Future and a student at Hinsdale Central High School Natasha Bhatia organized the protest. Bhatia spoke to the protestors outside the Kluczynski Federal Building to act as a voice of hope.

“We are here because we believe in the power of change,” Bhatia said. “Today, on this global day of action, we unite with a resounding message: The era of fossil fuels must come to an end, and it must come to an end now.” 

Bhatia said pursuing environmentally sustainable policies can safeguard future generations and maintain a liveable Earth. She called out to her fellow Generation Z protestors, reminding protesters they are the ones who will push for the much needed change. 

“Together, we will end the fossil fuel era and we will fight for our future,” Bhatia said. “Thank you for fighting with me.”

This story was written by Laila Ali and Lilli Malone

Featured image by Ava Fultz / The Phoenix

The Phoenix Staff

The Phoenix Staff