As pressure is put on governments to tackle climate change, industries such as banking are coming to terms with sustainability and reconfiguring their environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. Yet with the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2016, data accumulated since then has found that the world’s 60 biggest banks have helped finance the fossil fuel industry by $3.8 trillion. For consumers who are hoping to become more sustainable, changing your bank to one that is ethical and sustainable is a good starting point.
What Banks Do With Your Money?
Who you bank with is normally the last port of call for people when they consider making sustainable choices, partly because people are unaware of what banks do with their money. When you deposit money in your savings and current accounts, the bank uses the money to fund their banking activities, so your money could potentially be used to fund projects that go against your values.
To find out if your bank is using your money to fund the climate crisis, you can use bank.green to see how sustainable your bank is, alongside reading the annual Banking on Climate Chaos report to see the exact amount of money the biggest banks are lending to the fossil fuel sector.
How to Make a Difference?
There are many banks that are transparent and sustainable. The list below details a few green banks that do not support or invest in fossil fuel companies:
Monzo is an online app-based bank. It has publicly stated that it does not invest in fossil fuels (or arms or tobacco companies). You can open a free current account through the company’s app.
Founded in 1980, Triodos bank’s mission is to help create a society that protects and promotes quality of life and human dignity for all. The bank only finances companies that are socially and environmentally conscious. Unlike many high street banks that offer free current accounts, Triodos charges a £3 monthly fee which helps run your account.
Nationwide Building Society is the world’s largest building society. Building societies differ from conventional banks as they are owned and run by their members. Nationwide does not invest in fossil fuels and is a member of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA).
Starling is another app-based bank. The bank does not invest money directly in fossil fuels or new fossil fuel extraction projects. The bank is also a member of TechZero, a climate action group for UK tech companies.