By Kip Coerper
Thank you readers for all of the steps you may be taking to address climate change and reduce your carbon footprint – recycling, driving EV’s, going vegan, eating grass fed beef, carpooling, buying efficient light bulbs and appliances, etc. These are really important, and please share the ways you are making a difference with your friends and neighbors.
In addition and possibly more importantly, we need to address the unfortunate reality that banks are funding the polluting fossil fuel industry at alarming rates. The fossil fuel divestment movement is addressing that unfortunate reality by encouraging institutions and individuals to get their money out of pollution supportive banks. Go to: https://www.bankingonclimatechaos.org/ to find a list of the 12 worst investors in the fossil fuel industry. Since the Paris Climate accords in 2016, no. 1 JP Morgan Chase has invested $382 billion in fossil fuels, no. 2 CITI $285 billion, no. 3 Wells Fargo $272 billion, no. 4 Bank of America $232 billion. Look at your credit cards. If any of these names are on them, consider switching cards to a “green” bank. They can be found at https://www.rivers-mountains-greenfaith.org/divest-invest-workshop I have ended use of my CITI card in favor of an Amalgamated Bank Card with First Mutual of Omaha. None of that money is being invested in fossil fuels.
On March 21 I will be joining thousands of concerned citizens by symbolically cutting up my CITI card and sending a letter to CITI explaining why I am switching. And on that day thousands of caring people around the world will be moving their money out of dirty banks and rallying to demand banks to stop funding climate chaos. On that day Th!rd ACT is sponsoring a rally at a Bank of America building in Rochester at noon. See the details here: https://thirdact.org/national-day-of-action/
Most spiritual traditions talk about money with an emphasis on giving. Wealth is a deeply moral issue. One of the scriptures from the Christian tradition states “for where your treasure is there will your heart be also”. (Matthew 6:21). So if I look at my spending I should be able to determine my priorities. Our financial system rests on the accumulation of wealth. At the macro level, we know that our society and in particular big corporations have amassed a huge amount of wealth. Unfortunately these riches are rarely seen as part of the common good, even though they are produced by and often at the expense of the common good. (Consider the record profits of the oil industry during the present global oil shortage and spike of gas prices at the pump!). What would it be like to live in a society that decided to invest wealth and capital back into the health and well-being of the community and the earth? This is something we can imagine, hope for and work towards. That is precisely what many “green” banks and Credit Unions are doing. Consider joining me on March 21 to make a positive environmental difference with where your money is. And I hope to see some of you in Rochester that day as well.
If you would like to learn more about how to talk to people about these concerns, please join me at St. James’, Skaneateles each Sunday during Lent at 12 noon for a book study on “Saving us – a climate scientist’s case for Hope and Healing in a divided world” by Katharine Hayhoe, considered the most acclaimed climate scientist of our time. For more info go to https://www.stjamesskan.org/events/lenten-book-study-on-creationcare/