PROMO Climate - Protest Signs Change - iStock - DisobeyArt

Colorado students marching to protest pollution at state capitol

© iStock - DisobeyArt
Eric Galatas

(Colorado News Connection) Colorado students are expected to gather at the State Capitol today, joining a global climate youth strike. Students will also march to a Chase bank location, to urge the company to divest fossil-fuel holdings they said are aiding Russia's war in Ukraine.

Madeline Pierce, a sophomore at Cherry Creek High School and the event's organizer, said young people understand it is going to take more than recycling and biking to school to avert the most catastrophic impacts of a warming planet.

PROMO Government - Colorado Capitol Building Denver - iStock - kuosumo

© Colorado Capitol Building Denver - iStock - kuosumo

"I think it's always beneficial to take little steps, but the majority of emissions are from larger companies," Pierce emphasized. "The most beneficial thing to do is to call out these corporations for their climate change emissions, because that's the most impact that we can make, if we use our voice."

Pierce pointed to research showing 100 oil and gas companies are responsible for more than 70 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. More than half of emissions are linked to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. JPMorgan Chase has not yet responded to a request for comment. 

Chase is the largest investor in the Russian-owned natural gas company Gazprom, according to a recent Politico report, and activists say divestment will help international sanctions on Russia stick.

PROMO Climate - Environment Change Words Fire Drought Water Temperature Health Risk - iStock - tumsasedgars

© iStock - tumsasedgars

Between 2016 and 2020, Chase reportedly gave Gazprom $3.5 billion in financing, so Pierce argued Chase is in a position to reduce both climate pollution and violence in Ukraine.

"Gazprom has become a central way for Russia to work around these sanctions and provide funding for the invasion," Pierce contended. "We're asking JPMorgan [Chase] to not only divest from Gazprom because of their involvement with the war in Ukraine, but because of their involvement with natural gas emissions."

The global Fridays for Future movement, inspired by Greta Thunberg, has seen more than 140 million people mobilize to keep average global temperatures from rising above levels deemed dangerous by scientists. Pierce believes the movement may be reaching a tipping point.

"There was polling released last month that shows 82 percent of Coloradans consider climate change a serious problem, and 98 percent say wildfires that threaten homes and property are a serious problem," Pierce concluded.