Switch from fossil fuels! Divest your bank and energy supplier
1. Move your money out of fossil fuels
Once we put money in our bank accounts, we tend to think that it just sits there until we spend it. But in fact, those hard-earned £ can be invested anywhere in the world, and not necessarily in ways we would approve of. From UK fracking sites to coal mines in Colombia, banks pursue profit at the expense of the climate. Three UK banks in particular: HSBC, Barclays and RBS, are among the banks which have invested in the company building the Dakota pipeline. HSBC, Barclays and Aviva have also invested in Kinder Morgan, which has just been granted permission by the Canadian government to build a massive tar sands pipeline - a disaster for the climate and potentially 'Canada's Standing Rock' because of strong opposition from indigenous peoples. Anyone can contact these banks to tell them to pull their money out of this shameful project, but the greatest impact will be if customers divest their own bank accounts.
Luckily, switching to a more ethical bank is easy! Check out some of the resources below on which banks are worth switching to (and away from) and then head over to Current Account Switch to get the process started quickly and easily.
There are more ethical banking alternatives available than ever, with some of the top choices coming from Building Societies and more radically sustainable alternatives such as Triodos's new Current Account, although as of May 2018 there is still a waiting list for this Triodos account. A few of the top options as of 2018 are listed below:
Big Bad Banks with assets in coal, oil and gas extraction (all figures are the sum total from 2014-2016)
(research by Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, the Sierra Club, and Oil Change International in their report Banking on Climate Change):
HSBC - $13.2 billion
In April 2018 HSBC announced that they are moving their investments out of tar sands projects, but they still have a large number of other environmentally harmful investments in place. HSBC has spent over $7.7 billion from 2014 to 2016 in oil investments such as tar sands, Arctic and ultra-deepwater drilling, and while they have stopped funding new coal mines after increasing pressure from campaign groups, their investments totalled over $1 billion in coal mining and power.
Barclays - $12.5 billion
Barclays increased their investment into fossil fuels from 2015 to 2016, after Paris Agreement was signed, and is one of the companies that offers multi-billion dollar lines of credit to TransCanada, the company building the Keystone XL pipeline; they also fund Kinder Morgan, who are attempting to triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline that transports tar sands oil in Canada. Overall, they are one of the top investors in oil mining amongst banks.
RBS/NatWest - $3.3 billion
The Royal Bank of Scotland, of which NatWest is a subsidiary, has significantly reduced its investments into the coal and oil industries, with their overall spending going from $2.27 billion in 2014 to $122 million in 2016, seeing large reductions in tar sands and ultra-deepwater drilling. However, almost half of their total investment was into coal power.
Santander - $3.74 billion
Santander has escalated their spending in fossil fuels, going from $574 million in 2014 to $2.24 billion in 2016. They were another one of the banks that actually increased spending after the Paris Agreement was signed. They had a dramatic increase in spending in ultra-deepwater mining from $290 million in 2014 to $1.82 billion in 2016, making up a majority of their overall investment into fossil fuels.
Make Your Voice Heard
Make sure to tell your bank (or ex-bank) what you think of their climate-wrecking investments. Even if you are not a customer of a particular bank, you can still help put pressure on, for example through the email actions below or on their Facebook page.
You can also tweet at your bank using the Rainforest Action Network's Banking on Climate Change website to show your stance on their investments into fossil fuels.
2. Switch energy provider and fund renewables, not fossil fuels
Would you like the money you pay each month for your energy bill to help fund new renewables in the UK rather than burning fossil fuels? Luckily it's easy to switch. There are a few options nowadays:
Good Energy (use this link and if you sign up, the Campaign against Climate Change will get £30!) 100% green, and supporting over 52,000 independent generators across Britain.
Ecotricity 100% renewable electricity and 'green gas'
Bulb New kids on the block, they say their 100% renewable electricity is the cheapest.
LoCO2 Another small company, focusing on hydropower, offering 100% renewable electricity and 'green gas'
3. Campaign for divestment by pensions and other fund-holders
Done all that? Great. Unfortunately, if you have a pension, that is probably still invested in fossil fuels. Achieving divestment there is a more complex process, but one worth campaigning for - this article in the Guardian is a good place to get you started.
And if you want to go further, find local campaigns at gofossilfree.org