Giving Compass' Take:
- Climate activists are encouraging individuals to ditch three major banks funding the fossil fuel industry.
- How is divestment from "carbon money" contributing to climate action?
- Read more about climate action here.
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On March 21, climate activists across the country will cut up their credit cards and close their bank accounts. “Some of the actions will be beautiful and symbolic,” Bill McKibben, whose new organization Third Act is leading the day of action, told me. “People will be cutting up their Citi credit cards underwater next to dying coral reefs in the Florida Keys. Others will be cutting up their Chase cards on their fire-scarred homelands in California. Other actions will involve civil disobedience inside bank branches; some will involve people protesting on the sidewalks outside.”
There are already actions planned at banks in more than 80 cities, with new actions being confirmed almost daily. The day of action is the latest effort in a yearslong campaign to get Wall Street to stop funding fossil fuels. It also shows that more and more people are beginning to grasp something important: Our money is our carbon.
“The goal is to link cash and carbon in people’s minds,” McKibben told me. “When you look at huge wildfires and devastating hurricanes, yes, you should blame ExxonMobil, but you should also blame Citi, Chase, and Bank of America.”
When you put your money in the bank, it isn’t just sitting idly waiting for you to use it. The bank can use up to 90% of the money in your account to provide loans to companies across the economy. If you bank with Citi, Chase, Wells Fargo, or Bank of America―the world’s four largest funders of fossil fuels―they are using a percentage of that money to finance new coal mines, oil pipelines, and the massive build-out of liquefied natural gas (LNG) that is currently exacerbating environmental racism in the Gulf South.
We’ve known all this for a long time. For more than a decade, Rainforest Action Network and others have put out an invaluable annual report on banks’ financing of fossil fuels. What we didn’t know until recently, however, was the exact climate impact of our cash in the bank. That changed last year, when three nonprofit organizations—BankFWD, Climate Safe Lending Network, and The Outdoor Policy Outfit—released “The Carbon Bankroll,” a report containing a first-of-its-kind methodology to quantify the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the money we hold in the bank. The findings are stark.
Owing to the fact that your bank is using a chunk of your money to pay for new coal mines and oil pipelines, if you have $50,000 with one of the big Wall Street banks, the annual carbon associated with your cash is equal to taking around 12 flights between New York and London. If you have $500,000 with one of the big banks, it’s the equivalent of taking 120 flights between the Big Apple and the Big Smoke. Turns out, if you care about the climate crisis, ditching the banks funding the fossil fuel industry is one of the most important things you can do.
Read the full article about divestment as climate solutions by Alec Connon at YES! Magazine.