‘Climate First Bank’ is a community bank launching in Tampa later this year, based explicitly on Project Drawdown‘s plan to reverse climate change. By this they mean “Every decision and action we make will be analyzed through the lens of achieving drawdown. Climate First Bank (I/O) will change finance to finance change.” In practice it sounds like they will start off by offering dedicated loan options for solar power, energy retrofits and infrastructure.
The mainstream banking sector continues to finance climate breakdown: financing for fossil fuel projects has now rebounded to higher than 2016 levels, and financing for deforestation remains strong. It is clearly essential that an alternative approach to banking swiftly emerges. Climate First Bank’s strong framing on climate action is a much needed challenge to the sector. It joins other pioneers such as ‘Aspiration’, an online bank that targets the customers of mainstream banks, by pointing out the destructive projects that those institutions finance with the money of their account holders. Aspiration estimates that every dollar switched from a big bank to a fossil-fuel-free bank such as Aspiration or Climate First prevents around 2.5kg of carbon emissions, and brings the broader divestment movement closer to a tipping point.