The Swiss National Bank (SNB) on Friday rejected requests from environmental activists to alter its investment policy and quit investments in companies they say pollute the planet.
Around a hundred campaigners gathered outside the SNB's annual general meeting in Bern on Friday, triggering tight security at the event.
Around 170 protesters also bought SNB shares, allowing them to speak against the central bank's investments in companies such as Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Duke Energy and TotalEnergies.
The SNB has stakes in these companies after investing nearly 200 billion Swiss francs ($223 billion) in foreign stocks with newly created money during a long campaign to weaken the franc.
"The SNB is a big investor in many companies linked to climate change and can use this to influence them," said Jonas Kampus, a member of Climate Alliance Switzerland.
"We want them to use its voice or sell its shares. The climate emergency is real and we cannot afford to ignore it."
Hilda Nakabuye, a Ugandan climate change activist, said a pipeline project led by TotalEnergies had created a climate emergency in her country.
"SNB, stop financing our destruction," she said.
But a move to reprimand the SNB's bank council over the investments failed, with only 0.8% of shareholders supporting the move.
SNB Chairman Thomas Jordan said the central bank took climate change seriously but should not be distracted from its primary goal of ensuring price stability.
The SNB has already excluded companies that use primarily coal to produce energy, he said, but had not exited oil and gas companies totally because there was no consensus in Switzerland to support such a move.
Banks and other financiers of the climate crisis should be coerced to divest from fossil fuels and shift to green energy solutions
The SNB should be educated for rejecting climate change
@ance_star I agree with you