Corporate hypocrisy on climate change

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More Americans than ever are now beginning to take climate change seriously. According to some polls, 57% believe that climate change represents a serious global threat, and 78% agree that the U.S. government should take action to limit the amount of greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere. The increase in public awareness of climate change is beginning to show its […]

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New Tool for Fossil Fuel Divestment

Fossil Free

  The Fossil Free Index tracks the stock market’s performance, minus the oil, gas, and coal industries.  Given the link between burning fossil fuels and global climate change, financial professionals are increasingly searching for investment opportunities that exclude oil, gas, and coal companies. Fossil-Free Indexes LLC (FFI), an environmental, social, and governance index and research company released its first broad […]

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Bank of America Announces a New Plan for Taking Money from Those Who Can Least Afford It

Recently, Bank of America announced a new debit card where card holders will be charged $4.95 per month for overdraft protection.  The pitch to cardholders is that if they overdraw their accounts they will not rack up sizable overdraft fees.  On the surface, this might sound like a good deal to people who keep a low balance in their account and worry about accidentally triggering overdraft fees. But, the reality is quite different.  That’s because bank customers can’t overdraft their accounts unless they opt in for overdraft protection.  Gone are the days when banks could opt you in (without your knowledge) for overdraft protection  and then charge you hefty fees ($35 per overdraft)  for going pennies below your balance when you use your debit card. Allowing unaware customers to overdraft their account and then forcing them to pay $35 for this “privilege” mobilized consumers and their advocates to press for reform.  Thanks to banking reform legislation passed in 2010 (which Green America and its members supported), bank customers have to opt-in for overdraft protection.  If they don’t opt-in for the protection, and they attempt to overdraft their account, their card is simply rejected and no fee is charged.  Unfortunately, many consumers don’t understand this.  A 2011 survey of consumers who opted in for overdraft protection found that 66% of them mistakenly signed up for the service because they thought that if their debit card was rejected for trying to make […]

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Take Charge of your Card – Switch to a Credit Card that Supports People & the Planet

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Today, Green America is proud to announce our newest campaign:  The “Take Charge of your Card” campaign urges consumers to move their money away from mega-banks with questionable environmental practices, restrictive fees and interest rates, and outlandish executive compensation and into smaller community development banks and credit unions. One of the best ways to remove support from banks that fail […]

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The Responsible Endowments Activist: Lauren Ressler

Interview conducted by Martha van Gelder, associate editor of the Green American magazine. Climate Divestment Interview #8 “We want to make sure the solution is robust and encapsulates a lot of alternatives.” Lauren Ressler is a National Organizer for the Responsible Endowments Coalition, which helps students encourage their colleges and universities to invest their endowments responsibly. She’s been especially active in using endowment activism to fight climate change during the past year and a half. Green America/Martha van Gelder: It seems like the fossil-fuel divestment campaign is taking off. Is that your impression as well? Lauren Ressler: Definitely. By the beginning of January this last year, there were still only between ten and 20 campuses that were working on the campaign to varying degrees. However, since the coalition of organizations that were working on divestment in conjunction with the students at Swarthmore began working with 350.org, we have gone from about 40 campuses in September to more than 234 campuses that have started petitions online and are beginning the divestment campaign on their campuses. I would definitely say that it’s taking off.

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The College President: Dr. Stephen Mulkey

Interview conducted by Martha van Gelder, associate editor of the Green American magazine. Climate Divestment Interview #7 “Institutions of higher education should have been leading the way and they haven’t. They’ve been complacent, and they’ve been mired in the status quo. And yet, there’s incredible opportunity in this crisis.” Dr. Stephen Mulkey is a climate scientist and the president of Unity College in Unity, ME. Last November, he proposed to the school’s board of trustees that they divest their endowment from fossil fuels. After a lively discussion, the board voted unanimously in favor of the proposal. Green America/Martha van Gelder: Why do you believe that universities need to take action on climate change? Dr. Stephen Mulkey: I absolutely think that universities and colleges across the board have a special responsibility to take action. Our charge is to renew civilization. That being the case, it is ethically inconsistent to invest in its destruction. My own personal perspective is very simple: This generation of college students is facing an incredible series of sustainability challenges that will force them to live on a very different planet from the one that I grew up on. Unavoidably, the warming and the climate change that’s in the pipeline will create a dangerously disruptive climate for the second half of their lives, and increasingly so. The real question in play right now is whether my grandchildren and their children will have a civilization. Because warming of 6°C […]

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The City Mayor: Mike McGinn

Interview conducted by Martha van Gelder, associate editor of the Green American magazine. Climate Divestment Interview #6 “Your investment philosophy should reflect the values you have in governing.” Seattle mayor, Mike McGinn made history last November when he became the first mayor to divest his city from fossil fuels. His office has already divested the $1.4 million in their direct control, and it’s working to encourage the Seattle pension fund to divest its $1.9 billion from fossil fuels. Green America/Martha van Gelder: Why is it important for Seattle’s pension fund to divest from fossil fuels? Mike McGinn. Mayor Mike McGinn: It’s important when you’re a public entity that when you spend your dollars, you do so in a way that is consistent with the values of the people that live in the place. And Seattle has been, and I hope will continue to be, a leader in trying to build an environmentally sustainable economy, one that’s fair and economically vibrant. If you’re taking actions on the one hand to make buildings more efficient and make it easier for people to walk, use transit, or ride a bicycle, your investment philosophy should reflect the values you have in governing as well. Green America/Martha: Do you anticipate other cities following suit and divesting? McGinn: I do think it’s something that other cities should look at. Not every city manages its own pension fund; I know that many of the cities in the […]

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The Student Leader: Chloe Maxmin

Interview conducted by Martha van Gelder, associate editor of the Green American magazine. Climate Divestment Interview #5 “There are very big forces that need to be challenged.” Chloe Maxmin is a sophomore at Harvard University, and co-coordinator for the student-led movement to get Harvard to divest from fossil fuels. Green America/Martha van Gelder: How has the divestment effort at Harvard been going? Chloe Maxmin. Chloe Maxmin: We spent the whole first semester reaching out to different student groups, making pamphlets, and having educational events where students could learn about climate change and the role that divestment plays in the climate movement. One of the really good things about the divestment movement is that while there is a lot of economic jargon behind it, and while it is helpful to know a little bit about socially responsible investing, all you really have to know is that this is a moral movement, so anyone can get involved. Green America/Martha: Why do you think that divestment is a powerful tool in this fight? Maxmin:  It’s powerful for a few reasons. One is that it’s a very clear moral argument: we don’t want our universities investing in companies that are threatening our future. It’s counterproductive to everything they’re teaching us, and it is not in line with the values on our campus. So there’s this very clear moral disparity, and we’re calling Harvard out on that and trying to change it. Another reason it’s […]

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