Climate Change and Faithful Banking

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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 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.


Banking on Our Future–Grass Valley Action

On March 21, 2023 (32123) from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., local climate groups are organizing a Banking on Our Future demonstration at the corner of Brunswick and Sutton Way in Grass Valley, in coordination with Third Act and coordinated with similar events all across the country. This event will highlight the link between the top four banks taking our money in the front door (via bank accounts and credit cards) and giving it out the back door (via loans to fossil fuel companies that make climate chaos worse). Without this funding, the vital transition to clean energy would have happened years ago.

Third Act’s Banking on Our Future Campaign addresses the moral dilemma of investing in fossil fuels and points us in the direction of financial faithfulness through our banking choices. Third Act, whose members are age 60+, is organizing the March 21st Day of Action that will give all of us, regardless of age, an opportunity to assert that moral claim and pressure the “Big Four” banks (Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo) to stop bankrolling the expansion of the fossil fuel industry.  Third Act is not doing this alone. To date, 29 other organizations have signed on as partners, including GreenFaith, the Sierra Club and the Hip Hop Caucus. See Why We Must Act: Banks Drive Climate Destruction.

Participants in the local demonstration will gather at the corner of Brunswick and Sutton Way in Grass Valley, near Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, and a Citibank ATM. People are encouraged to bring signs. Some participants will walk to these banks; some customers may cut up credit cards and close accounts. Organizers will share plans with local bank managers in advance. The purpose of the Day of Action is not to shut down banks, but to raise awareness about the link between banking and the climate crisis and to urge banks to fund clean energy projects rather than fossil fuels. Some bank managers and employee may agree.

The first step for participants, whether customers of these banks or not, is to Take the Pledge: “If Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo are still funding climate-destroying fossil fuel projects on March 21, 2023, I pledge to close my account and cut up my credit card. If I don’t bank at these institutions now, I pledge I won’t do so in the future.” Those who won’t be able to change banks immediately on March 21 are encouraged to sign the pledge anyway, start researching what it will take, and get the process going.

Those who need support to change banks can find help by reading How I Broke Free from Climate Bad Banks: It Feels So Good, and by joining or forming a Cohort, a group of four people who will walk together through changing banks and moving their money. We have a growing list of local Grass Valley banks and credit unions that do not invest in fossil fuels. If you want to take other creative action, check out Third Act’s resources or its Campaign toolkit.

Everyone is invited to participate in the local demonstration on the Day of Action, either as individuals or as part of a group. For instance, there will be a multifaith contingent.

Speakers, songs and chants, and other activities are still to be determined. This action is being sponsored locally by Earth Justice Ministries, Elders Climate Action, and Nevada County Climate Action Now.  [Other co-sponsors are welcome.]  For more about the local action, contact us at . For more about the national Banking on Our Future Ccampaign go to and for more about the national day of action, go to



The Mine is not Good for Children or Other Living Things

Sharon Delgado

On Mothers’ Day in 2006, after my husband Guari and I had moved back to Nevada County, our grown kids and grandkids gathered at Memorial Park for a picnic. I had requested it since I had happy memories of being there at the park when we raised our children. I imagined that our grandchildren would also enjoy playing at the playground and splashing in the creek.

I was shocked to see that metal fencing blocked the so-called creek. Signs warned people to stay out because it contained hazardous chemicals. What a nightmare. As it turned out, it was not a creek at all, but the Magenta Drain, which handles discharge from the Empire Mine. Some weeks afterward, I saw people in Hazmat suits working to strengthen the fence. Chilling.

I thought back, remembering the kids playing in the creek and wondering what they had been exposed to and how it might have impacted their health. I still wonder what ailments might be traced back to those exposures. I know now that toxic waste at the mine included mercury, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and other pollutants, and that it flowed into Wolf Creek and other area streams, where people fish and swim.

In 2014, a grand jury report found that local residents’ health, welfare, and water quality may be compromised by toxic pollution caused by the Empire Mine, Lava Cap Mine, and North Star Mine, and that for over 30 years governmental agencies failed to coordinate or properly enforce cleanup required by legal settlements and abatement orders.

Mine runoff from the Empire Mine is now being treated by a wastewater treatment system built by Empire Mine State Park and mine owner Newmont Mining. In other words, it was paid for with both public and private funds. This commonly takes place with mining corporations around the world. In fact, there is often no accountability for mining corporations that pollute. C  leanup from mining operations (if it happens) is often paid for by the state. It’s called corporate welfare—private gain for corporate “persons” at the expense of flesh and blood human beings, communities, and ecosystems.

For example, Rise Gold’s CEO Ben Mossman is currently on trial in Canada. He faces nine federal and twenty provincial charges related to toxic spills by his previous mining company, which polluted tribal waters, went bankrupt, and left Canadians with the costs.

Naturally, we oppose the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine. The Environmental Impact Report is deficient in so many ways. Members of our community have spent countless hours analyzing it and uncovering its flaws. And we have prior commitments as a community that we the people have worked hard to implement. Why would any member of the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors vote to approve this project, which would override and negate the stated goals of the Nevada County Energy Action Plan?

I entreat each member of the Board of Supervisors to oppose it. Community members, please take this time to study the issues. Go to Minewatch at to find out what you can do to stop this travesty from taking place. Make your views known to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

The promises of a re-opened gold mine ring hollow considering the potential health risks, disruption of community values and commitments, damage to local ecosystems, threats of further toxicity to our children and future generations, and so much more. Our beloved Nevada County has been damaged by the toxic legacy of the Gold Rush, but there is still so much beauty and life here, so much to be saved and protected. We may think that we sit on top of the natural world and try to control it, that is not true, and the natural world is not expendible for human gain. We are part of the interconnected and interdependent community of life, and as Indigenous people have always known, what we do to the community of life, we do to ourselves.


Climate Crisis Demands Change by Jonah Platt

Climate Crisis Demands Change was published by The Grass Valley Union. In addition to being a Nevada County Sunrise member, Jonah Platt is a member of the Board of Directors of Earth Justice Ministries.

We, the Nevada County Sunrise Chapter, are calling on the people of our community to support us and others as we ask for the community to undergo systemic change toward a more equitable and sustainable future.

It is unfortunate to look around us and see what feels like the world burning before our eyes. We’ve inherited this Earth and feel a need to protect it from ourselves.

There are options before us to create a more just and climate-responsible society and community but without collective and individual action, nothing changes. The Earth and many people upon it are crying out for real change.

The fact is, we can bring that change and alter the course of our shared humanity. The generations that come after us are our inherent responsibility. We must provide for them a safe and supportive environment to grow up in.

On a global scale, we’ve over-consumed what’s possible to sustain our guaranteed future as a species, while at the same time forsaking the survival of most living things on this planet. It’s no wonder many of us young people feel a sense of despair and oncoming collapse when considering the state of things.

That being an unfair environment to grow up in, we still believe there’s hope. We see it when members of our community act toward social and climate justice. We feel it when we organize and work together toward changing our community.

One ask that we have of you is that you help us as we call on our elected officials to make impactful policy decisions to directly address the climate emergency we are all in.

Nothing changes until we accept the emergency and initiate an aggressive adjustment to how we do things.

Some simple steps we can take now through policy action include stopping the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine, updating the general plans of our cities and county to implement climate-responsible policies and procedures including plans for mitigating oncoming climate disasters, and working toward hitting carbon neutrality goals.

There are countless solutions we can adopt toward attaining a more sustainable future. We ask for your support and continued action to make a brighter future possible.

Join our call to action by signing our letter at, check us out online at and follow us on Instagram at nevadacountysunrise.

Jonah Platt is a member of the Nevada County Sunrise Movement, which is a local hub for a national youth-led organization focusing on reversing the climate crisis through a Green New Deal. His piece was submitted on behalf of all members.

See the Union piece and the comments here: