This year the World Council of Churches put forth the initiative, “Climate-Responsible Finance: A Moral Imperative towards Children,” which links the deadly impacts of climate change on the world’s children with the strategy of engagement with banks that are invested in fossil fuels. At the launch of this initiative in May 2022, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “It is now time for financial service providers to accelerate the shift to renewables. They have the power – and the responsibility. The scientific and moral imperative is clear: there must be no new investment in fossil fuel expansion, including production, infrastructure, and exploration.”
Clearly, the climate impacts of our investments are linked to ethical decisions about our money. Here in the United States, an organization called Third Act, which is geared toward elders, is taking this connection to heart. Formed by seasoned climate organizer (and United Methodist) Bill McKibben, Third Act promotes both democracy and effective climate action.
Locally, four local climate organizations are sponsoring an “Day of Action” on March 21st, in coordination with Third Act’s Banking on Our Future Campaign. It will be a rally at the intersection of Sutton and Brunswick from 3:30 to 5:30. All are welcome at this intergenerational event.
The Banking on our Future Campaign focuses on the four top banks that fund fossil fuel projects: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citibank. This “money pipeline” from banks enables fossil fuel companies to build new extraction, transportation, processing, sales, and export infrastructure that lock us into increasing fossil fuel use and accelerating global heating for decades–decades that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says we don’t have. Without the money pipeline, the big fossil fuel profiteers would have to stop funding new infrastructure, stop actively spreading climate change denial, and make good on their promises to transition to renewable forms of energy.
As a member of the Coordinating Committee of Third Act Faith, a working group of Third Act, I am charged with explaining the work of Third Act to faith communities as well as to all people of goodwill and conscience, and to encourage people to participate. Explaining the work of Third Act has been made easy by Bill McKibben and others. Watch a four-minute PBS News Hour special with McKibben, “A Brief but Spectacular take (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/brief/430904/bill-mckibben). Why an organization of elders? People over sixty own seventy percent of the wealth in this country, there are 70 million of us, most of us vote, many of us have children in our lives whom we love, and we hope to leave all the earth’s children and future generations a legacy of abundant life on a stable planet, such as we have enjoyed.
To understand the rationale of the Banking on Our Future Campaign, read Your Money Is Your Carbon (https://billmckibben.substack.com/p/your-money-is-your-carbon) or Third Act’s Blog).
Explaining how participating in Third Act’s Banking on Our Future Campaign is an act of faith and conscience involves highlighting points that the World Council of Churches and others have made about the morality of our money in this time of climate emergency. Others have used a simple slogan to explain it: “It’s wrong to profit by wrecking the planet.”
In practical terms, this campaign offers suggestions, action opportunities, and resources at varied levels of commitment, including writing letters to the big banks, pledging to divest if your bank continues funding fossil fuels, engaging with bank managers, or participating in public demonstrations. By participating, we join with many other groups offering resources and taking similar actions, including Stop the Money Pipeline and Customers for Climate Justice.
On March 21, 2023, our local action will be one of hundreds taking place as part of a National Day of Action. Many people will be publicly divesting from these four banks. See 32123! Big Banks are Driving the Climate Crisis So We’re Pushing Back (https://billmckibben.substack.com/p/32123). The local organizations co-sponsoring the Grass Valley event are Earth Justice Ministries, Sierra Foothills Elders Climate Action, Nevada County Climate Action Now, and Nevada County Sunrise Movement.
To join us here in Grass Valley, as part of a faith contingent or as an individual or part of a group, just show up! To find out more go to earth-justice.org/banking-on-our-future-grass-valley-action/. For support in changing banks or to identify a local bank or credit union that does not fund fossil fuel projects, email .
I encourage you to rise to the challenge that the climate emergency presents to us in our time. Taking steps toward “faithful banking” is one way to go beyond individual actions and to work toward systemic change by exerting our collective power to pressure our dominant institutions to move toward a justly and sustainably sourced clean energy future.