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Why I chained myself to the offices of a bank

by
15 November 2022

Companies that fund the fossil-fuel industry must be held to account, argues Val King

Extinction Rebellion

Protesters outside the offices of JP Morgan Chase in Glasgow, on 3 November. Val King is seated on the right, next to her husband, Pete

Protesters outside the offices of JP Morgan Chase in Glasgow, on 3 November. Val King is seated on the right, next to her husband, Pete

A MONTH ago, my husband Pete and I decided that enough was enough — if we cared about the climate emergency, we needed to be serious in taking a stand against those funding the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. We decided that we were going to chain ourselves to the offices of JP Morgan Chase in Glasgow.

I had had a sense of anxiety for the whole week leading up to the action, which took place on 3 November. Thankfully, we didn’t have to do it alone. There were two others chaining themselves alongside us. There was also a group of protesters dressed in black taking part in a performance of lament for the planet, with another team holding banners and offering support.

The reason I think I was so anxious was because I was expecting to be arrested and spend the night in a police cell. As it was, the arrest never came, but the anticipatory anxiety was difficult.

The thing that kept my determination strong was remembering why we were targeting JP Morgan Chase. From 2016, when the Paris Climate Agreement was signed, until 2021, this bank has been the world’s largest banker of fossil fuels, pouring $382 billion into the fossil-fuel industry.

I’m becoming increasingly aware that big banks and big businesses such as JP Morgan are driving the increase of fossil fuels, despite knowing that this will have catastrophic effects on the planet. As someone who comes from a business background, I don’t understand how, as logical human beings, they can do this.

The protest that I took part in was a sombre one. All the signs are showing us that we are running headlong into a disastrous future for humanity. One year ago, less than a mile from JP Morgan’s Glasgow offices, the international climate summit, COP26, delivered little for those already suffering in the global South, an injustice that has been commented on by many faith groups.

COP27 is currently ongoing in Egypt. I wish I could be more hopeful of a positive outcome for us all; sadly, I am not. It is telling that, at the very same time as this summit, fossil-fuel companies are making the largest profits that they have ever made. If we leave the tackling of this crisis to world leaders, who are heavily influenced by big corporations, this pattern will only continue. If we want change to happen, we need to push for it ourselves.

 

FOR me, the climate crisis is personal because I am a mother. There is no doubt that it will have catastrophic consequences for my children, their generation, and generations to come. I am terrified that the future that they have in front of them is going to be so dramatically different from the life that I have lived.

I have to do something about it. I am compelled to do something about it. Even if my small voice means nothing to the powers that be, I need to do something — to protest in a peaceful way, and, if necessary, get arrested.

As a Christian, I follow the path of Jesus, who stood up to the oppressive powers of his time. That is what I was trying to do at the JP Morgan Chase offices: take a stand against a system that is corrupt and wilfully destroying the planet.

My faith strengthens me to carry out protests such as these. As Christians, we are taught that we are all part of the body of Christ; when one part suffers, we all suffer. I hope to stand on behalf of those people on the front lines of climate breakdown — the people who do not have a voice in the UK. These people are suffering as we speak. Please remember them in your prayers.

Val King is a mother, a business adviser, and a member of Christian Climate Action, a group known as “the Christians of Extinction Rebellion”.

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