I’m finding the world a bit surreal – is it just me?
Locked down for a year; totalitarian states; governments attacking people; governments killing people; black lives matter; wars rising; tensions rising; demonstrations on the streets; no concerts, entertainment or hospitality … the list goes on.
Meantime, there are basic issues that still need sorting out, like the world is screwed. We’ve destroyed the planet. Yawn … yea, I heard about that. Have another glass of wine.
The problem really seems to be too much information. I never used to care about the rest of the world. When I was growing up, news about things happening on my street mattered. I guess that, as I grew up, we globalised and moved around. We became international and then global. Now, what happens a thousand miles away is reported to me, and I care.
A rape in India; a whale killed in the Pacific; thousands dying of Covid in Brazil; a shooting in Minneapolis; China suppressing Uighur Muslims; Saudi Arabia killing a journalist; a British Prime Minister in cahoots with private business to make money; and so on and so forth.
Maybe this is the issue. It’s not fake news; it’s too much news. I have too much input. I’m over-loaded. I’m about to short-circuit.
What does this mean? It means that I resist the system. I don’t trust the system. I don’t believe in the system. I want to change the system.
This is where crypto strikes at the heart of the banking systems, as I’ve blogged about a lot (you can download my report on this here).
Maybe that’s what I was getting at in my discussion of the seismic shift from paper to data. As we moved from paper to data, we moved from local to global. We moved from my focus to our focus. We moved from thinking about me to thinking about us.
That’s were Extinction Rebellion steps in.
Started by Gail Bradbrook, Simon Bramwell and Roger Hallam in 2018, the movement – which is loosely called XR – became notable for its activist stance to get government to change their position on climate and, more importantly, the climate emergency. Interestingly, this was around the same time that Greta Thunberg gained focus and the dual work of Greta and XR has really raised climate to the top of the agenda.
We were talking in the FSClub about climate issues from an insurance perspective back in the 2000s. Why has it taken so long for us to wake up to this issue?
Oh … profit.
It’s really simple. The reason we are destroying this planet is that we don’t give a f*ck if we make a buck.
Profitability for shareholders and bonuses for execs is the core of why climate management is lip service, and not delivered.
According to Bloomberg, bank public statements mentioned Sustainability 22 times in 2010 and 202 mentions in 2020; climate change, four mentions in 2010 and 115 in 2020.
They mention it, but what are they doing about it?
They mention it, as they feel it is important to show compassion, but do they act upon it?
They mention it, as it makes them look better, but are they really better?
I am getting fed up with CSR and ESG discussions that don’t deliver. I hear the commitments in PR statements and then see no demonstrable change of action. This is annoying.
A great example is BlackRock investments.
BlackRock, one of the world’s biggest investment companies, talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. They talk about climate being important but invest 97% of their $6 trillion of assets in climate destroying companies.
I urge you to read this report: Five Years Lost if you want to know more, but here is a key headline:
12 fossil fuel projects funded by big banks and asset firms will use up most of our carbon in the next few years and #1 investor is Blackrock
Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, is a two-faced hypocrite and this is annoying me much. He talks a lot about climate, ESG and CSR, yet his company is the #1 investor in firms that are destroying our planet.
It is this hypocrisy of banks and governments claiming to commit to climate change goals, and then doing nothing, that is annoying everyone much. For example, during Earth Day last week (22nd April), I was struck by this comment from Greenpeace UK’s head of climate, Kate Blagojevic: “This summit has seen more targets than an archery competition”.
In banking, it is particularly interesting, as finance is the intersection between growth and expansion of commerce and trade. Since 1988, 71% of gas emissions destroying Earth came from just 100 companies, and the majority are fossil fuel firms. If we could restrict the support of banks in those firms, it would change the game. But how?
Maybe the answer is coming in the form of Money Rebellion.
The climate activists have realised that lobbying government changes things, but lobbying banks and making them fearful is just as important. That’s why Extinction Rebellion has launched Money Rebellion.
What is that?
In short (scraped from their website):
Join us in rejecting the economic rules and financial institutions that are killing us.
Our economic system determines the course of our lives. Its rules govern everything that matters to us – but this system is willing to sacrifice our health, climate and natural world to favour the fortunes of the few.
The system is killing us
It cannot protect us from the crises to come, because its structure causes and ignores them. Our marker for progress – GDP growth – counts the short-term profits from burning oil and felling forests, but not the long-term dangers to our survival, leading us further into climate and ecological breakdown.
Break the Rules
Money Rebellion is a call to expose and disrupt the economic rules and institutions driving us toward societal collapse: growth, debt, banks, the government… Find out why and how to disrupt these ideas, institutions, and more in our first wave of actions.
GET INVOLVED – WHAT YOU CAN DO
Nonviolent Direct Action
Banks, the stock market, and other unelected financial institutions make huge decisions for us and for the planet, with little to no accountability. We need new rulemakers that allow life on Earth to thrive. We’ll disrupt key economic institutions with a wide range of non-violent tactics.
Banks and other financial institutions continue to fund fossil fuel projects and other polluting industries that destroy nature and exploit the lands of poorer nations. They encourage us to get into debt, forcing the economy to grow beyond the planet’s limits in order to pay back loans with interest. On their behalf, we will donate money to those that heal and repair the damage they do.
The Government continues to pour our taxes into fossil fuel subsidies, condition-free bailouts for polluting industries, and HS2, an aviation shuttle service that is destroying nature. It continues to judge the success of our economy by growth in GDP, instead of growth in the social and environmental measures that a majority of UK citizens want.
The government isn’t using our taxes to keep us safe. So small business owners are holding some back – and donating it to those that are showing the government how it’s done.
To keep growing, this economic system needs people to take on debt – so it encourages people to take risks. Money Rebellion wants to unite those who #Won’tPay with those who #Can’tPay. If you’re on the precipice of not being able to pay your debts, section 7 of our legal toolkit may be of interest.
Meantime, explore this presentation for the full range of economic and financial actions for local groups ahead:
Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...