You Have More Power Than You Think
By: Chandu Visweswariah
Money makes the world go around. Put your money where your mouth is. While we’ve all heard these sayings, I recently had the satisfaction of using them to advance environmental goals.
Many of us have some money in the form of bank accounts, or investments (like stocks, bonds or mutual funds) or retirement assets (like 401(k) accounts). Is that money being invested in fossil fuel projects? Is it taking our world in the wrong direction? It turns out that we can vote with our money by divesting from rogue banks and investing only in funds with high ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) scores.
I came across a report Banking on Climate Chaos from the Rainforest Action Network that spurred me to action. It lists the “Dirty Dozen” banks which fund the most fossil fuel projects worldwide. The dishonor role of worst offenders is Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, RBC, MUFG, Barclays, Mizhuo, TD, BNP Paribas, Scotiabank and Morgan Stanley, with Chase being the worst by far.
Despite a positive 30+-year relationship with Chase, my wife and I decided to vote with our money and close our Chase accounts with the letter below that we handed to the Chase branch manager yesterday.
171 S. Riverside Avenue
Croton on Hudson, NY 10520
Dear Ms. ██████████████:
Re: Our checking accounts ███████, ███████ and our savings accounts ███████, ███████
We regret to inform you that we have decided to close all of our Chase accounts in protest of Chase’s massive financing of projects that are harmful to our planet.
Climate change is the existential crisis of our lifetimes, and Chase is persisting in enabling and encouraging humanity to move in the wrong direction. We need to urgently decarbonize our economies and Chase will go down as being on the wrong side of history in the coming transformation of our energy systems. As such, we cannot continue to work with a company that causes this grievous harm.
We have previously shared with you the report “Banking on Climate Chaos” put together by Rainforest Action Network. The executive summary says it all: “JPMorgan Chase remains the world’s worst banker of fossil fuels.” Page 12 of the report shows that in the period 2016 to 2020, JPMorgan Chase was the worst of the “dirty dozen” with 30% more investment in fossil fuels than Citi in second place.
We feel an individual responsibility to live low-carbon lives, and part of that responsibility is to invest only in instruments with high ESG scores. We cannot in good faith keep our banking at Chase. We would like to register our strongest possible protest against Chase’s policies.
We would like to thank you and all the staff at your branch for years of excellent service at our local branch. You have been supportive in all our life events like buying our house, buying our cars, selling our old house, forming and selling our business, etc. We acknowledge that you do not control Chase’s investment policies, and that we would be happy to work with Chase and continue to receive excellent service from you and your staff were it not for Chase’s investment policies.
Please help us to close up our accounts and transfer the balances elsewhere immediately.
We would urge you to share our sentiments with those in Chase who make these bad decisions and thus hurt mankind for years to come with their policies. We wish you the best in your future endeavors.
Chandu Visweswariah Patricia L. Buchanan
Analyze your finances from a carbon perspective. Feel free to use the above letter as a template. Imagine if millions of people did this… you have more power than you think!
1 thought on “You Have More Power Than You Think”
Getting why I see so many more climate related articles and ads in FT and WSJ, than papers like the NYT or the BostonGlobe. Duh.
However, last week there was a wave of articles on a backlash to corporate greenwashing. I guess this is still the dawn of awakening and therefore much debate.
12 yrs ago I asked a friend who was the head of Global investments at BlackRock (!) where to put my savings. He said “ Phillip Morris” shocking at the time but probably moot now.
So, where to put my savings? it’ll be amazing if a certain good ESG rated bank will get enough defectors to make a real difference.