Individual actions can add up--from reducing waste and using water and energy efficiently--we can reduce our emissions and save money. We can also vote with our money each day by purchasing from companies that consider the environment in everything they do, such as B Corporations or Certified Green Businesses. 9369338853?profile=RESIZE_584x

We, as informed residents, are already taking many actions to help our Earth and fight climate change. 

However, you may not be aware that the companies you trust with your money are not acting in the same way. 

Climate change is a phenomenon that will--and is--testing our species. In fact, in early 2020, JP Morgan economists warned of “irreversible consequences…[climate change] will impact the world economy, human health, water stress, migration and the survival of other species on Earth.” Hearing a warning like this is definitely foreboding--it’s encouraging that folks who represent our financial system recognize the threat and take actions to respond, right? 

In 2020, I was shocked to learn that the world’s biggest banks, including household names like Chase, Bank of America, Citibank and Wells Fargo, have provided $3.8 trillion to fossil fuel companies since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015. While we can’t abandon fossil fuel use altogether right now--you would think our leaders would be guiding us towards a financial future with more renewable, clean energy. 

Instead, these banks have poured their assets into financing projects that, according to the Rainforest Action Network, result in more Indigenous rights violations, wildfires, pollution, health impacts, and humans and animals forced out of their homes by extreme weather disasters. We're seeing these effects in our own backyards too, with wildfires and drought exacerbated by the increase in average temperatures. 

In a country where corporations can act as people and influence legislation, this can seem discouraging. What can we do to take meaningful action on climate change? 

As they say in Cabaret, “Money makes the world go ‘round.” THIS! Is What We Did, an all-volunteer organization working to improve climate literacy, suggests that we consider three flows of money that allow the destruction of our planet. First, our funds to climate-bad banks (when we use credit cards, savings/checking accounts, and mortgages) allow them to profit. Second, these climate-bad banks provide loans and investments that allow the fossil fuel industry to expand and destroy the planet. Finally, fossil fuel companies provide huge campaign contributions to politicians, sometimes preventing them from taking effective legislative action to address climate change. 

We will never be able to persuade fossil fuel companies to abandon their products or contributions to politicians, but it is only in solidarity--that is, together--that we can make a significant change and interrupt the flow of money that allows them to destroy the planet. 

As Daniel, a THIS! volunteer, said, "I got angry when I realized that the bank I was counting on to protect my money for my future was instead using my money to destroy my future."

By divesting from banks that use OUR money to invest in fossil fuels, we can weaken the role of fossil fuel companies in our country and fight climate change through our financial power. THIS! Is What We Did offers orientation events, resources to help you assess your financial needs, and cohorts that work together to divest. 

This past spring, I took part in a “Move Your Money” cohort with THIS!, and I was able to divest my checking and savings accounts from Wells Fargo in favor of Aspiration, which allows me to contribute to tree-planting projects and access tens of thousands of free ATMs. 

Divesting from your bank can seem complicated at first. If you’re anything like me, you may have some automatic payments to pay for essentials like groceries and rent. However, THIS! provides worksheets to walk you through the process and can answer any questions you may have along the way. Divesting can take as little as 3-4 hours over the course of a month, but joining a group of people with similar goals can hold you accountable and help you get it done! 

There is a wealth of financial institutions that never invest in fossil fuel projects or expansion but rather contribute to environmental projects or local communities. For example, Self Help Federal Credit Union is open to all but makes it a priority to provide financial services to underserved groups, including “people of color, rural residents, and low-wealth families and communities.” They also finance community development projects and help rebuild historic buildings affected by disinvestment. 

Our financial institutions can--and should--work for us. 

We may not be able to invest in a big-ticket item like solar panels or an electric vehicle to reduce our emissions, but we’re already taking daily actions to take the earth. In solidarity, we can make the corporations that shape our lives work on our behalf. 

Every day, we are taking actions to fight climate change, like reducing our energy use and taking public transit. We can build a more vibrant future based on our values. 

Why shouldn’t we ask our banks to abandon their empty promises and do the same? 


To learn more about the divesting process, visit

Many thanks to the founder of THIS!, Jim Thompson, for providing information for this article. Get in touch with Jim or learn more about the organization’s work by emailing


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