I want to start off by saying: climate change is not your fault. All those times you’ve needed to get a plastic bag at Sainsbury’s (/Superstore. Writing for an international audience is hard) or treated yourself to a burger or not recycled your Cheerios box… Please don’t feel guilty for that. That is a tremendously disempowering narrative/despicable form of greenwashing that takes the spotlight off the real issue: the large corporations, governments, systems, billionaire individuals who only care about money. And I don’t want to absolve any of them, but it is gonna take all of us.
But, it is so so so so overwhelming to be told all these different things we can do! Do I go vegan? Stop driving a car? Hide out in a bush for the rest of my life holding my breath so as not to pollute the earth any further from my own selfish act of being alive? Meanwhile Jeff Bezos is flying into space. Uh, okay.
So, I’m gonna give you one super simple one-time thing to do that is actually going to be effective and not take very much time. Because, it’s not too late.
Ok, I lied, there are two things. But the first one only works if you live in BC, Canada. If you don’t, we’ll see you at Thing 2.
All you BC-residents, listen up. Here’s what you gotta do. It’s going to take 5 minutes of your time and has a small price involved. BUT it will make a huge impact — so much so, that if you complete this, I will personally grant you free rein to use as many plastic straws as you like for the rest of the week. Because this is way bigger than that.
Go online, and register as a member of the NDP. It costs $10.
That’s it! Wow, did it already! Congratulations, you can pat yourself on the back and call it a day for being a climate advocate.
Okay, it’s not quite that easy. There’s a Part 2 to Thing 1: In a few weeks, you’ll be able to vote for the next premier (=leader) of British Columbia. And, wouldn’t you know it, there’s a candidate who just happens to give a shit about the planet!
Her name is Anjali Appadurai and she’s a climate activist. In this time of environmental crisis (if you’re in a part of the world that’s hasn’t been burning lately, nice!), we need to put people like Anjali in the driving seats; people who aren’t just talking but acting. She was only 400 votes from winning the federal election in 2021. And she’s only against one other opponent. That’s how close she is. I mean, do your own research and everything, I won’t tell you who to vote for, but I’m hoping I can convince at least a few of my readers to register and then vote. This is more than disposable cups. This is the systemic change we need.
Register to vote. Please.
Okay, you don’t live in BC, or maybe you do, and you just want another great thing that you can do for the planet. Perhaps an action that’s estimated to be 23% more effective than all other personal actions combined?
Call your bank.
A massive number of banks still fund fossil fuels, which are BY FAR the main source of carbon emissions. A recent report found that the worlds largest banks have invested $3.8 trillion into fossil fuels in the last 5 years. This is despite commitments to net zero under the Paris Agreement, the global commitment to limit global warming to 2C (and preferably 1.5C).
Banking on Climate Chaos Report 2021 comes out every year with the worlds “dirtiest” banks. Just to name a few, these banks regularly top the charts: JP Morgan, RBC, Barclays, TD, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal, ICBC, CIBC, Santander. You can also check your bank using this site.
If you think your money is sitting dormant in your account: it’s not. It’s being used to invest in all sorts of things, including tar sands, coal mining, and oil and gas. The average carbon footprint of a pension is 26 tons of CO2 a year (that’s more than twice as much as the average person in the UK).
With our money, these investments will keep happening.
“If humanity, along with other species, is to survive, fossil fuels must be kept in the ground and banks must redirect their financing into clean and renewable energy.”Banking on Climate Chaos Report 2021
Of course, we need governments to enforce legislation to really stop banks from funding fossil fuels, so voting for parties who are prioritizing this is another huge thing we can do.
In the meantime, we can help by adding our voices. Apply public pressure. Take your business to a bank that is actually committed to climate change (there are a few! Use this resource to find sustainable banks in your country). Or, if your money is tied up, ask to have your funds be only used for environmentally sustainable initiatives. Hell, even just tell them that you know they’re funding fossil fuels and you’re not okay with it—one small conversation can go a long way.
I’m proud of you, climate activist! Subscribe for all the latest from Oatcakes & Opiates.