If one thing I learn from crime films and series, always follow the money. While it is fine to boycott fast fashion, slow down our animal consumption and use mainly reusable items, there is still so much we can do which is linking us with corporations, banks who are doing harm.
First stop – bank ethically. The money sitting in our bank accounts is being used to make investments. Large, high street banks are still the biggest investors in fracking, arms trade, tobacco, coal mining and extracting fossil fuel.
Banks funnelled $1.9 trillion into fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement at the end of 2015. Of this $1.9 trillion total, $600 billion went to 100 companies that are most aggressively expanding fossil fuels. Alarmingly, these findings reveal that the business practices of the world’s major banks continue to be aligned with climate disaster and stand in sharp contrast to the IPCC special report on global warming.
Triodos Bank is the first bank in the UK which is investing in everything from renewable energy, organic farming and social housing, through to retail, charities and education. Their aim is to transform the economy for a sustainable future. Over 700,000 customers are already playing their part in their positive movement, making them one of the world’s most sustainable banks. Use your spending power and let your money do the talking.
I am finally a Triodos account holder and altogether it took me about 2-3 hours spread across 2 weeks to set it up. My monthly payment is £3 for the account but I am using my privilege to make the move, because I can therefore I will!
The worst ones to avoid are – Barclays, HSBC, RBS, Santander, Llyods
If feel like letting the bank you are with know why you are leaving, use the below template and email them…
“Dear (name of old bank/ CEO),
I’ve banked with (old bank) for (x) years. But as you continue to finance the fossil fuel industry which the UN says is driving the planet towards “severe, widespread and irreversible impacts,” I’ve been forced to switch my banking to (new bank)—who do not fund fossil fuels.
I trusted you with my money. But by continuing—despite the warnings of the IMF, World Bank, Bank of England and others—to invest in companies who aren’t just endangering the future of life on earth, but whose resources are also set to become “stranded assets” within a matter of years, you’ve shown that you lack the foresight to be trusted with my funds.
I urge you to reconsider your position and commit to withdrawing support from fossil fuels of all kinds as soon as possible—as you must, to comply with the Paris Agreement. I look forward to a response detailing exactly when you’ll end support (financial and advisory) for coal, oil, gas, and other dirty fuels like tar sands.
Although I’m just one customer out of millions, the fossil fuel divestment movement that I’m part of is growing all the time—and until you listen to its demands and act with moral and financial responsibility, you’ll continue to lose customers to (new bank).
Second – stop – divest – your pension fund supporting fossil fuel extraction and unethical practises. Or at least try – (“There are almost no company pension schemes in Britain that allow the employee to stop their money going into fossil fuel extraction. Yet it should be as simple as pressing a few buttons on a workplace computer. Instead, we have a pensions infrastructure in the UK which is fundamentally unfit for purpose when it comes to climate change”. – article snippet from the Guardian)
If you work in local government or the private sector, your pension is probably invested in fossil fuels. As your pension is arranged through your employer, divesting it isn’t as easy as switching personal bank accounts—you’ll have to make some noise about it.
Regardless of that keep on reading…
Step 1 ) if you can – build a team. If you have colleagues with a similar interests, come together. There is always power in numbers.
Step 2 ) Find out your pension contact details. or simply ask your employer .
Step 3) Email your contact: Ask how much of your money is invested in fossil fuels, and if there’s a fossil fuel divestment option available. Pension fund divest email template here
Step 4) Act: Ask for your money to be transferred to the fossil-free fund, or, if there isn’t one, request a face-to-face meeting with your contact to discuss how one can be set up—the charity ShareAction can provide free advice to help you prepare you for this discussion. See their Pension Power guide for a primer.
Step 5) You might feel talking to a wall after all this and not getting much result but if more and more people are demanding it a) someone with a hell of a lot money might set up something and offer a divesting pension fund because there is a “gap in the market” b) we have gotta try and leave no stone unturned, like some of us camp on the streets and march on Fridays.