Today, April 1st, activists are taking part in ‘The Money Rebellion‘, a day of action against the banking industry for its role in climate change. Some will be carrying out direct action, our friends at Christian Climate Action among them. Others will be moving their money to a different bank or withdrawing investments. But what is the connection between money and climate change?
The simple answer is that every destructive project or industry has funders and investors. If a company wishes to open a new coal mine or build another runway on an international airport, they have to raise the money to do so. That means drawing on investors and banks, who will profit from that project. These funders could choose to invest in something else. Instead, they have chosen to support damaging projects that contribute to a global crisis that, as wealthy individuals in the global North, they will be largely shielded from.
According to new research from the Rainforest Action Network, the world’s 60 biggest banks have poured $3.8 trillion into fossil fuels in the last five years – that’s since the Paris Agreement was signed. The American giant JP Morgan Chase tops the list, but household names such as Barclays and HSBC also feature. Barclays has lent or underwritten $24.5 billion in investments in fossil fuels since 2015, and HSBC has $19 billion to its name.
This is the destruction of the living world for the sake of profit. Those who suffer first are those least responsible – mainly people of colour, including residents of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The Bank of England has made tentative steps to acknowledge the climate crisis. When funders decline to fund fossil fuels, projects don’t happen – as we saw recently when Bangladesh failed to find investors for 9 new coal power stations and pulled the plug on them. A growing list of banks and organisations have chosen to divest from fossil fuels, with the latest round of campaigning focusing on council pension funds. It is possible to make a difference, and to use money for good.
“I, the Lord, love justice” says the God we follow, and calling the powerful to account is part of our worship. To find out more about today’s action and how you can take part, see the many links from the Money Rebellion page, or read the report from Rainforest Action Network, which is summarised in the video below.