How your bank is funding climate change

How Your Bank Is Funding Climate Change

Did you know that just four US banks are responsible for one quarter of fossil fuel financing over the last six years? 

I think we can all agree that being you know instigators of global climate collapse is not a good look for any of these banks. But it’s also not a good look for any of us who might be using these banks.

Now, you may be thinking, look, I don’t spend my weekends fracking for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. I’m not up there trying to drill in the Arctic reserve, like, how did I get drawn into this fossil fuel mess?

Well, it’s a little thing called fractional reserve banking. 

What is fractional reserve banking?

Fractional reserve banking allows banks to lend out up to 90% of the money that you put into that bank to anyone they damn well, please, and they’re doing this so they can make some money off of it. Banks are, to quote the iconic group TLC, creepin, and trying to keep it on the down low. Banks go around sneaking behind our back to lend out money to these fossil fuel companies, all while knowing that these companies are destroying life on Earth, like the banks know that. And to our faces, these banks are pushing out sustainable campaign after sustainable campaign to try and appeal to us as consumers. 

This is known as financial greenwashing. And literally every major bank is doing it. Why are banks doing us so dirty? Well, turns out banks don’t make that much money off of the money that we as consumers put into the bank. They make their money by lending out your money and some of their money, things like mortgages, car loans, personal loans, that’s the bank lending out money to a variety of people in places, and then they make money on the interest that they get from those loans. 

But banks also invest billions of dollars into other companies, businesses like Chevron, or Exxon or Occidental Petroleum Corp, all three of which Chase Bank has given a ton of money to in the last few years. In fact, between 2016 and 2020, Chase Bank, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America funneled more than $412 billion to expanding fossil fuel extraction and use banks are talking out of both sides of their mouth to us. And honestly, I’m over it. 

How your bank is funding climate change

Can we avoid climate catastrophe?

The IEA is the gold standard of climate science. And in 2021, they released a report called Net Zero by 2050. And this is basically a roadmap to avoiding total climate catastrophe. The report said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Hey, world, listen up. If we want to avoid moving beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming, then we need basically every single country, every single major international company, and every single person on this planet to get on the same page about climate change. Like right now, we have 10 seconds to fix this thing.”

Specifically in this roadmap, the IEA pulled the Drake and said no new friends when it comes to fossil fuel financing and investments. All the major banks know this. But not only have these banks continued to fund fossil fuels, in some cases, the banks have increased their funding to fossil fuels. Chase bank actually increased its fossil fuel funding by $16 billion in 2021. Honestly, like, tell me where they get the audacity tell me where Jamie Dimon who is the CEO of Chase, gets the audacity like where is he keeping it? 

Well, here’s where they get the audacity, they get the audacity by constantly moving the goalposts net zero by 5050 is actually the perfect rallying cry for these banks. Because 2050 is 27 years away. And then when we get to 2050, they’re gonna say, oh, man, that goal of net zero by 2050 was actually way harder than we thought it was going to be. But don’t worry. Now we have a new CEO who won’t make all the mistakes that our old CEO made, and we’re really committed to making change. And while they make this announcement, Antarctica will literally burst into flames. 

How to take your money out of an unethical bank & where to put it

So as we know by now, when we put our money into banks, banks can then turn around and lend out that money to companies that we might not agree with on a personal level, Wells Fargo Bank of America, CitiBank and Chase Bank are the worst offenders. So if reading this is making you feel like a little gross, but having your money at any of these banks, a really easy thing that you can do that will have an impact is to stop using them as your bank, take your money out of there. But if you’re also a little bit confused on how you can do that, don’t worry. Let me tell you how to make it happen. 

All you have to do is open a new bank account at a new, more ethical bank. You can also simply Google credit union and then name of your city. I like credit unions, they’re a really nice local option, a lot of them do a lot of really good work in their hyper local communities. I personally pulled out of Bank of America in 2011. I’ve never had any problem with my credit union at all. In fact, I keep my business account there as well. So I can do all the same things that I could do at Bank of America, except I know that my credit union isn’t using my money to blow the tops off mountains, which is a real thing that Bank of America does. 

What else can you do about unethical banks?

The second thing you can do is complain loudly, you know what all companies want to avoid at pretty much all costs, negative publicity, and for brands that specifically build themselves as sustainable or as climate friendly. They really don’t want to get caught as a climate hypocrite where we point out, “Hey, look at all this gross stuff you’re actually doing.” So use your voice online to absolutely hammer these companies. Feel free to tweet at Chase Bank: “Why are you such a liar? Take my money out of fossil fuels, or I’ll take my money out of Chase.” Share the data that proves that these banks are ruining everything for everyone.

The third thing you can do is invest in funds that are making change from the inside. This is what I like to call the AOC route. AOC looked around and said, Hey, our system is garbage and then ran for office she got inside the system and is trying to make change from the floor of Congress. And there are plenty of activists who agree with her and that route, who say, Hey, this is what we’ve got, let’s try and make this thing better. You can be a part of that by saying all right, I’m going to take my money out of bad companies and put it into companies that I agree with and that I think are doing good things in this world. 

If you want to dig a little deeper into this topic, the video below will talk you through it.

It feels amazing to know that Exxon gets zero of my dollars every single day. Okay, y’all, that’s the game plan for now. So go out there and give these banks hell.

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