Big Bank Detox Day
Barclays and HSBC at risk of losing 3 million customers over continued investment in fossil fuels
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Published: 29 January 2021
This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod
A survey of consumers who bank with Barclays and HSBC shows that these banks risk losing up to 3 million customers due to financing fossil fuels.
The online survey was carried out by ICM Unlimited on behalf of Market Forces, an organisation campaigning to stop banks from financing environmental damage.
It shows that Barclays and HSBC benefit from a low level of awareness of their climate impacts, with four-fifths (80%) of customers unaware that their bank is investing in fossil fuels.
When faced with the facts, however, more than one in 10 (12.5%) customers say they would be very likely to consider switching banks. This would be the equivalent of 3 million customers leaving HSBC and Barclays for more ethical alternatives.
A ‘dirty little secret’
Barclays and HSBC have collectively invested over £149 billion in coal, gas, oil, tar sands and fracking since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2015.
This makes them the seventh and twelfth worst banks in the world (respectively) – and the two worst in Europe – for financing climate change.
Both banks have come under pressure to rapidly phase out investment in fossil fuels from their portfolios.
Many shareholders and activists have pointed out the bank’s funding of fossil fuels is inconsistent with their support for the Paris Climate Agreement and their recent ‘net zero by 2050’ pledges.
‘Funding fossil fuels has been Barclays and HSBC’s dirty little secret. Strip away the slick marketing and they are two of the world’s biggest funders of the climate crisis. They have been pulling the wool over their customers’ eyes for years.
‘If you’re upset about this, you’re one of the millions of customers ready to move their money elsewhere. Customers have huge power this year because of the UN climate conference in Glasgow. Banks that continue funding fossil fuels are going to face an exodus.’
UK campaigner at Market Forces
Bank On Our Future
Bank On Our Future, a network of organisations campaigning for more sustainable practices in the finance industry, is laying down the gauntlet.
It is asking environmentally conscious consumers who bank with HSBC and Barclays to switch to a more ethical bank today (29 January), which they have dubbed the Big Bank Detox Day.
For those taking the challenge, Bank On Our Future is also calling on customers to inform their bank of the reason for their switch. Brits collectively have over £16 billion saved in ISAs.
‘One of the most effective things we can do as consumers to fight climate change is to demand that our money is invested sustainably, even more than going vegan, taking fewer flights or using less plastic. If you are one of the millions of customers of HSBC and Barclays who is horrified to learn that your money is being invested in fossil fuels, there are plenty of great ethical alternatives out there and switching is very straightforward.
‘And don’t leave quietly! Tell your bank exactly why you are leaving to send a powerful message to the industry that their time for destroying the environment is up. I switched away from one of these banks last year (and blogged about it) as I was fed up of feeling like I was part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.
‘The seven-day switching service and a decent choice of more ethically minded banks mean there’s no reason to stay put. Ultimately, things won’t change until banks see that we’re voting with our feet – and are told in no uncertain terms why.’
Leading personal finance expert and founder of the Young Money Blog