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Fighting Climate Change by Shutting Down the Money Pipeline

Environmentalists are targeting banks in their efforts to slow global warming.
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Photo Illustration by 731. Photos: Getty Images; Shutterstock

Johan Frijns will tell you that on his best days, he takes to the streets in the morning in jeans and a T-shirt to protest climate change, then in the afternoon dons a suit to visit a bank, where he tells executives they must do more to combat global warming.

For the better part of two decades, Frijns has sought to rein in carbon emissions by hitting fossil fuel producers where it hurts most: their cash pipeline. The way to do that, the 55-year-old Dutchman says, is pressing lenders to cut off funding to coal, oil, gas, and industrial polluters. “Banks have great leverage over their clients,” says Frijns, a founder of BankTrack, a nonprofit that focuses on the role the finance industry plays in climate change.