Model and activist Lily Cole has joined the call for the banking sector to respond to the climate emergency, alongside ethical bank Triodos.
‘I’ve long believed in voting with your wallet for the change you want to see in the world, for example supporting Fairtrade and organic food and fashion, yet there are other subtle and powerful ways that our money shapes the world – such as the investments made by our banks, pensions and the institutions we work with.
‘When Triodos launched a current account in the UK, I immediately joined the bank, as I didn’t want to be accidentally investing in the arms trade and fossil fuel industry, and instead enjoy knowing that Triodos is mindful about investing in a positive vision for our planet.’
Actress and social entrepreneur
Pressure on banking mounts
Following the global climate strike on 20 September and with Extinction Rebellion’s next uprising fast approaching, pressure is building for the banking sector to live up to its climate commitments.
According to NGO BankTrack, the top UK banks have poured nearly £150 billion into financing fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2016, including £45bn for the expansion of fossil fuels, of which £13bn was invested in fracking.
Change from the sector is required, especially if we are to meet the UK government’s target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
UK banks and climate change
New research by insight agency Kingfisher, which assessed over 800 web pages, has found that UK banks are presenting a confusing and conflicting account of their sustainability initiatives to customers, despite public concern for climate change reaching a record high in recent months.
The report, commissioned by Triodos Bank UK, found that the biggest UK high street banks share very little information on sustainability ambitions on their customer-facing websites and only present generalised statements, claims and commitments.
It reveals that UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not mentioned once by the UK’s biggest banks, while the term ‘sustainability’ occurs only four times.
Collectively, the biggest UK banks only mention the term ‘planet’ three times on their websites.
‘Too many UK banks are failing to take the climate emergency seriously. How can they talk about wanting to serve society while investing in planet-wrecking projects such as fossil fuel extraction? Funding the destruction of our planet is certainly not in the best interest of customers.
‘It’s great to see Triodos continuing to shine a light on the unethical finance models of many UK banks, and we’re proud as an organisation to be partnered with them. By empowering people to do good with their finances, we can create positive environmental outcomes, and put pressure on other banks to change their practices.’
CEO of Friends of the Earth