Hamilton 350

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Five Years of Elders For Climate Sanity

Elders 4 Climate Sanity (E4CS) was founded by six members of Hamilton 350 in the summer of 2018.

We wanted to address the climate crisis and attempt to wake more people up to the fact that the earth was burning and that the youngest and most vulnerable would suffer greatly. We felt compelled to take action.

One of our members, Tina Di Clementi, a retired science teacher, created an audio-visual presentation showing how and why the earth’s atmosphere has been warming.

Her first presentation was given to the residents of Caroline Place in March, 2019, followed by more than 30 similar presentations to various community groups, seniors’ residences and churches in Hamilton, Ancaster, Dundas, Stoney Creek and Oakville. We were pleased to learn that several of these groups started their own climate actions. In April, 2020, however, COVID put an end to these presentations.

In 2023, E4CS member Don Brown was the recipient of  the Hamilton Senior of the Year Award for Financial Leadership.

Why 350?

The global 350 movement of which E4CS is a part was co-founded by Bill McKibben 15 years ago and is active in 188 countries. Why 350?

The math is terrifying- For thousands of years, the earth’s atmosphere contained less than 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide (CO2), which scientists agreed was a safe amount. Since the Industrial Revolution, however, it has risen to the point where it is 424.55 (as of the time of writing).

This is largely due to the ever-increasing burning of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil. Abandoned oil and gas wells, as well as fracking so-called “natural” gas, add methane to the atmosphere, which is up to 80 times more potent than CO2 in trapping heat.

As a result, 350.org was founded to promote bold action against those wrecking Earth’s climate. One of its successful campaigns has been to demand significant divestment from fossil fuels.

McKibben went on to found Third Act, building a community of people over the age of 60 who are determined to change the world for the better, using their life experience, skills, and resources to build a better tomorrow.

Why support a bank that is helping to destroy the planet?

Canadian banks continue to loan billions of dollars to the fossil fuel industries for new coal, gas and oil projects. RBC is the worst offender.

E4CS is focused on stopping this financing of Earth’s destruction, targeting both bank personnel and customers. How could we tell our banks to support an economy based on Earth-friendly practices rather than on Earth-destroying ones?

Every few weeks, armed with signs, leaflets and letters, we meet at five different banking areas to talk with people on the sidewalks and to let bank officials know the reason for our mission.

We greet and engage everyone, people walking down the street or in their cars, students on their lunch break. Sometimes we use a sound system for music and singing.

We also take advantage of ArtCrawls, street closings, and summer festivals to deliver our message. E4CS members join other environmental groups such as Fridays for Future, Stop Urban Sprawl, Land Back, and Macdivest, always calling for “sanity”, and protesting the financing of Earth’s destruction.

Our leaflets present the facts and urge people to “let their money talk”. They can confront their banks, invest ethically in renewable energy, and switch to credit unions, letting their bank know why. We have handed out hundreds of letters addressed to bank officials for people to sign and mail.

We also draw attention to the misleading greenwashing in banks’ advertising, and how Indigenous water and land rights continue to be disrespected during pipeline construction.

Responses to our actions are mixed. Requests to meet with managers can often be successful. While one RBC manager was pretty stiff-necked about talking with us at all, another expressed sympathy for what we were doing. Security officers sometimes prevent our entry if we are wearing signs. On four occasions when police were called, cordial conversations happened. More and more people are telling us that they have changed how they bank.

From our sister organization, Seniors for Climate Action Now (SCAN), we acquired postcards to send to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) calling out their greenwashing and urging divestment from fossil fuels. We have also handed out No Farmland, No Food postcards that ask people to support the National Farmers Union in preserving farmland. We welcome new members, support and ideas.

If you love this planet, and your children, join us at our next public rally and learn how to slow down dangerous weather!

E4CS action photo
E4CS action photo with giant cheque
E4CS action photo in bank
E4CS action photo