Even as we have worked to address climate change over the past decade, it is clear that even our most ambitious goals are not enough to stop dangerous climate trends. Now, we face the possibility that even the modest progress we have made could be rolled back by new policies that will accelerate irreparable damage to our planet and we still have no sensible public policy to assist workers who are impacted by common sense environmental and public health regulations.
With new leaders in Washington who don’t believe in science or climate change, key environmental protections and global agreements are at serious risk. Obama-era limits on greenhouse-gas emissions and regulations that keep our water safe and clean will likely be rolled back. America’s participation in the international Paris Climate Agreement, which the US championed, is now up in the air. Within our own borders, we see how rising sea levels, extreme weather, and pollution are threatening vulnerable communities from coast to coast.
We simply cannot allow or afford any rollback in policies that will keep our planet safe. These are risks our planet simply cannot afford. As the bank with values, we don’t just ‘talk the talk’ when it comes to climate change. We are proud that Amalgamated Bank is leading the way among financial institutions in the fight for an environmentally responsible future.
We are not the only bank to support the Paris Climate Agreement or the use of renewable energy, but for most financial institutions, climate advocacy starts and ends with a press release. Since 2013, top global banks have contributed $786 billion in fossil fuel funding, including coal power finance, tar sands development, LNG export and pipelines. They have also donated millions of dollars to political candidates and politicians who deny the very existence of climate change, even as we see and feel its effects all around the globe.
Amalgamated Bank is different. We are committed to a greener, more sustainable planet, and our practices reflect that from top to bottom. At Amalgamated, our customers can rest assured that we don’t lend any of their money, or even the bank’s own money, to fossil fuel projects. We have also established the Longview Low Carbon Fund, providing our customers with the option to invest in financial portfolios free of fossil fuels. And our bank will never donate to a climate denier, or any politician who threatens our future with willful ignorance.
By the end of this year, Amalgamated Bank will run on 100% renewable energy – starting with new solar panels installed by workers from IBEW Local 3 on our flagship branch in the Bronx, which will generate an impressive 37,000 kWh of clean energy this year alone. We have also made a commitment to operate with net zero electricity over the course of 2017 and into the future, making us the second largest net zero bank in the country. We want all Americans to have the opportunity invest in renewable energy; which is why we offer our customers a unique and special line of credit to install solar panels on their own homes. While we know all too well that investments in renewable energies can have negative impacts for workers—especially union workers in construction—we also need to work to create better opportunities that allow for smart infrastructure development, which requires their critical skillset, and does so without leaving a toxic imprint on our environment.
This work and commitment to our environment has not gone unnoticed. It’s part of the reason many of the nation’s leading climate advocacy organizations – including the US Climate Action Network, Blue Green Alliance, Our Revolution, the League of Conservation Voters and Climate Hawks Vote – choose to bank with Amalgamated. It’s also why our bank just received the globally recognized B corporation certification, awarded only to good corporate actors around the world committed to responsible governance and transparency.
We understand that being a bank for hard working Americans also means protecting the world that allows businesses and communities to thrive. We will continue to speak truth to power on climate change, and stay true to our mission to do the most good for the most people. As climate deniers continue to gain power in Washington and state houses across the country, it’s increasingly up to the private sector to be catalysts for change and bulwarks against those trying to turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made to protect our environment.