Day 20: Push the banks
Today’s action: Putting your money to work … for the climate (Part I)
Today’s action is to push the big banks to stop funding climate chaos. You’ve got some options; pick one or more for today:
If you’re a customer of Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, or Citibank, take 30 seconds and sign this open letter to demand they stop funding fossil fuel projects and deforestation. This letter is the first step to put more sustained pressure on these institutions, which are the biggest funders of climate destruction. Once you’ve signed the letter, use these sample messages to ask your friends to join you.
Consider switching where you bank. If you’re in the US and bank with one of the largest national banks, chances are that your bank finances fossil fuel projects (you can check here). If you’d prefer to use a financial institution that doesn’t do that, Bank for Good can help find one that works for you. (If you’re interested but not ready to switch today, you can sign up to receive a reminder at a later date.) If you decide to switch, it’s helpful to also tell your old bank why; send an email once you’ve closed your account (sample emails here and here), or tag your old bank on social media.
Take online action to ask Wall Street CEOs and banks to stop funding dangerous fossil fuel expansion. We normally don’t like focusing too much on online petitions and clicktivism, but if you’re already banking with a local credit union or smaller local bank (which are unlikely to invest in fossil fuels), then here’s an easy way to take action today: explore Stop the Money Pipeline’s suggested actions and pick one or more to do.
Why this action? Large banks and asset managers are funding the fossil fuel industry, which is fueling climate catastrophe. In the first 4 years after the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, 35 private banks funneled 2.7 TRILLION US DOLLARS into fossil fuels. JPMorgan Chase alone financed fossil fuels to the tune of $269 billion between 2016-2019. (To put that in perspective, that is waaaay more than the under $3 billion that ExxonMobil spent each of those years on exploration, research, and development.) The biggest banks are still acting like they didn't get the memo on climate change.
Convincing the largest financial firms to stop financing fossil fuels has game-changing potential to help us transition more rapidly away from fossil fuels. Your actions as a bank customer – whether pressuring them to change, or switching to another bank and telling your old one why – helps keep the pressure on those firms.
Looking for more? Read on for more related info, including on the role of insurance companies. (Also, we’ve got another money-related action for you next week – stay tuned!)
Learn and reflect
Bill McKibben’s New Yorker article on the role of banking, asset management, and insurance is well worth a read: “Money is the Oxygen on which the Fire of Global Warming Burns.” For something quicker, check out his co-authored op-ed on following the money or this BBC article on “Why your banking habits matter for the climate.”
For more about the role of banks in funding climate change, including the role of specific banks, check out “Banking on Climate Change: Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2020” and the website Banking on Climate Chaos (including their <3-min video).
Insurance companies also help prop up the fossil fuel industry in two ways: by underwriting fossil fuel projects, and by investing hundreds of billions in fossil fuels. To learn more, read the New Yorker article recommended above, as well as this report: “Time for the Insurance Industry to Unfriend Oil and Gas.”
Looking for other info and services to support your own money-related actions? This site has compiled resources related to sustainable banking, investment, and insurance, with info for 11 different countries/regions.
Take action with Stop the Money Pipeline, a campaign focused on “holding the financial backers of climate chaos accountable”; their targets include banks, asset managers, insurance companies and institutional investors.