On Tuesday, March 21, over 100 actions by Third Act members all across the nation demonstrated the need to curb climate change by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and dumping banks that support fossil fuel infrastructure. The matter is urgent as already our weather is changing dramatically for the worse, as we well know in California. Weather has become more erratic and more extreme, and consequently more damaging.

The march in Davis

In Davis, it was sunny and pleasant on Monday, but pouring rain on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, the day chosen for the mass climate actions. Nonetheless, we gathered at Davis Community Church for a few minutes together under a roof to practice our climate songs, decide our route, and get our signs. Then out into the elements we marched. In a way the rainy weather was the perfect setting for our actions, since such a downpour in February is not our previous norm. It could likely be attributed to the changing climate, the very topic of our march to the Big Banks who fund fossil fuels.

We sang a familiar tune with fresh lyrics: “When the Saints Come Marching for Climate.” Our lyrics singled out “when Chase divests, from fossil fuels…When B of A goes fossil free…When Wells Fargo quits gas and oil…” . At Chase Bank we took letters inside for the manager and staff explaining why we were outside. The letter stated our action was to save the climate we depend upon for our crops that feed this nation and noted the importance of a stable climate even as climate disasters are featured in the news regularly of late. We correctly identified that Chase Bank is the #1 investor in fossil fuels of all the banks to the tune of $382 billion invested from 2016 to 2021! One member of our group sternly cut up his Chase credit card and scattered the pieces on the pavement. (Of course, we picked them up after the photo.)

We crossed the street to Bank of America where another member of the group cut up her credit card as we posed for a photo in the continuing rain. Bank of America has invested $232 billion in fossil fuel funding in the last five years! We shared the same letter with the bank staff inside.

Finally, we marched to Wells Fargo Bank for the last photos and delivery of letters. They invested $272 billion in fossil fuel funding in the last five years, and we delivered letters to the manger and staff so they understood our protest, though they scowled at us.

Ah. Fortified by our action, we parted feeling a sense of accomplishment. Taking action is empowering.

Next steps

But by the time I unpacked at home, I was thinking ahead to next steps. First, post our photos to be shared across the country with the other 100+ Third Act postings. Exhilarating…for a few moments. Then the realization this is only the beginning. We must keep pushing these banks to stop funding fossil fuels or, more likely, convince customers to leave in droves. We must not support banks that fund the destruction of our planet. The evidence that we are changing the climate of the earth is all too evident. Severe droughts in parts of Africa imperil safe drinking water. Island nations are forced to evacuate to new homes as their own homes succumb to flooding. Crop failures in all parts of the world mean the United Nations distribution systems to help areas in distress are faltering. The UN no longer has grains in reserve to stave off the hunger.

Third Act follows 350.org for Bill McKibben

Third Act was founded in September of 2021 by lifelong environmental activist Bill McKibben to harness the power of Americans over 60 years of age. The website explains: “…our generations saw enormous positive change early in our lives—the civil rights movement, for instance, or the fight to end massive wars or guarantee the rights of women. And now we fear that the promise of those changes may be dying, as the planet heats and inequality grows. But as a generation we have unprecedented skills and resources that we can bring to bear. Washington and Wall Street have to listen when we speak, because we vote and because we have a large—maybe an overlarge—share of the country’s assets. And many of us have kids and grandkids and great grandkids: we have, in other words, very real reasons to worry and to work.”

Final IPCC report

The sixth and final International Panel on Climate Change publication https://www.ipcc.ch/assessment-report/ar6/ offers a frightening prospect, unless we take immediate steps to curb the burning of fossil fuels and adapt to the planet we have created for ourselves.

There is much we can do, but we must find the will. The report identifies water as crucial to all life on earth, yet we have jeopardized clean water in many ways. The Universal Right to Water, a law promoted by Unitarian Universalists (I know because I was involved) and passed first in California, was signed into law by Governor Edmund G Brown Jr. on September 25, 2012. With that law, our state recognizes the human right to water! It must be upheld in our state… and around the globe. In many places in CA and around the world, this basic necessity is threatened.

The IPCC report offers hope, but we must act quickly and thoughtfully to preserve a livable planet.

Get involved

If you wish to be involved in future actions around banking, please contact Lynne Nittler at lnittlerATsbcglobal.net with Bank Action Davis as your subject line. Just email your phone number if you’d rather talk.

Lynne Nittler is a leader with the Yolo Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice, a Cool Davis working group, a former Cool Davis board member, and co-founder of Cool Davis along with Judy Moores. All Cool Davis working groups are part of the Cool Davis Coalition.