Thursday, October 03, 2019

Why Big Banks Are Accused of Funding the Climate Crisis

To save the world, we must follow the money, climate campaigners say.

Money and Industry (Credit: Flavijus via Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Rachel Heaton understands better than most the power banks have to shape our world.  Heaton, a member of the Muckleshoot tribe, started to make the connection between money and climate change as an activist against the oil pipeline at Standing Rock, North Dakota. 

She was one of a group of activists who identified Wells Fargo as the principal bank investing in the controversial pipeline that passes under the Missouri River, the source of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water supply.  Their 2016 campaign, organizing pickets outside dozens of the bank’s branches in their home city of Seattle, ultimately persuaded the city to close its account with Wells Fargo in February 2017.  (Although Seattle did eventually go back to the bank, for lack of other options.)

Following this campaign, Heaton co-founded Mazaska Talks — mazaska is the Lakota word for “money” — in January 2017, an indigenous-led alliance aiming to bring people together across the country to demand cities pull their money away from the Wall Street banks that finance fossil fuels.

“What we’re pushing to get back to are those values of respecting Mother Earth, and understanding that if we allow these banks and these fossil fuel companies to continue exploring and taking these resources, we are no longer going to have a Mother Earth,” Heaton said.

Heaton’s group is just one element of a global divestment movement, pushing cities, religious organizations, cultural organizations, pension funds and other big institutional investors to stop investing their money in banks that fund fossil fuels and other projects which exacerbate the climate crisis.  And as civil society movements ramp up, with the school strikes movement gaining momentum and spilling over into the global climate strikes in September, campaigners are continuing to demand we follow the money. 

The power of banks and other financial institutions is often overlooked when talking about tackling the climate crisis, but they are enormously powerful actors. 

Read more at Why Big Banks Are Accused of Funding the Climate Crisis

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