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Fed chief Jerome Powell faces opposition from climate activists at Wyoming event

The Federal Reserve will hold its annual Jackson Hole Economic Symposium on Thursday, which focuses this year on the theme Macroeconomic Policy in an Uneven Economy. File Photo by Al Drago/UPI
The Federal Reserve will hold its annual Jackson Hole Economic Symposium on Thursday, which focuses this year on the theme "Macroeconomic Policy in an Uneven Economy." File Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 26 (UPI) -- The Federal Reserve and Chairman Jerome Powell will open the central bank's annual Jackson Hole Economic Symposium in Wyoming on Thursday facing opposition from climate protesters calling for a change in leadership.

The theme for this year's symposium is "Macroeconomic Policy in an Uneven Economy" and is focused on the Fed's new monetary policy to prioritize pushing the domestic economy to maximum employment.

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As part of this approach, the central bank is seeking to boost jobs, even if that might push inflation above the Fed's perpetual 2% target.

Investors will pay attention to Thursday's meeting hoping for information on how the central bank plans to draw down its emergency bond-buying program.

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The Fed has been buying $120 billion worth of bonds each month since last year as a COVID-19 stimulus measure while also pledging to keep interest rates near zero to aid economic recovery.

However, in minutes from its meeting last month, the Fed said the economy was "close to being satisfied" with the progress of job growth and had reached its goal for inflation. It also discussed plans to scale back its monthly bond-buying program in 2021.

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Thursday's symposium comes as Powell is in the final months of his first term. He was nominated by former President Donald Trump in 2018 and the term ends in February. He could be renominated by President Joe Biden -- but some climate activists are calling for a change.

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The symposium in Jackson Hole is being held virtually, but members of the environmentalist organization 350.org are using the event to rally support for nominating someone else.

The group plans to protest in person at the conference and demand that Biden replace Powell with a candidate who will prioritize limiting the Fed's impact on climate change.

"The Federal Reserve must act on its key role in tackling the climate crisis. It's up to ordinary people like us to make sure our central bank serves its purpose, and that starts with replacing Jerome Powell as the Fed's chair with a true climate champion," the group states in a petition on its website.

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As part of the planned protest, climbers and climate activists scaled one of the Tetons' Cathedral Peaks in the Jackson area and planted a banner that read "Stop the Money Pipeline."

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"It's going to take all of us to make clear that our economy must shift away from fossil fuels immediately in order to keep us below 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming," Brett Fleishman, 350.org senior global analyst, said, according to Jackson Hole News.

"The Federal Reserve must account for climate risk and stop the money pipeline before the window of opportunity closes."

The chair of the Federal Reserve is nominated by the president and must be confirmed by the Senate.

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