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Green your money

Now you can move your money with effortless switches that benefit the planet and your pocket
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
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This article first appeared in our COP28 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published 30 November 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

For many companies financed emissions – from business bank accounts to pensions – are the biggest contributor to their carbon emissions, largely because of where mainstream banks choose to put your money.

The world’s 60 biggest banks are putting in £50 for every £1 that BP invests in fossil fuel expansion.

The major UK banks have ploughed £367.25 billion into fossil fuels since 2016 and many continue to invest in sectors that don’t align with our values.

Earlier this year Natwest was named in relation to funding cluster munitions and nuclear weapons; HSBC has faced human rights scandals and Barclays has invested £6.7bn to JBS, ‘one of the world’s most destructive meat corporations.’

How to make an impact

The financed emissions from your bank and pension could be larger than the entire supply chain combined – something Dan Sherrard-Smith, CEO and founder of MotherTree, discovered for himself in 2021, when he participated in the Climate Challenge – 30 challenges over 30 days to live a greener lifestyle.

‘We took on all sorts of tasks’, Dan remembers; ‘we went vegan, got rid of single-use plastic – but two actions really stood out: where our banks were investing and where our pensions were invested.’

2% of Dan’s pension was with BP and Shell and 1% was with British American Tobacco – companies and industries he would never have chosen to invest in.

‘That was the start of MotherTree’, he tells us. ‘We looked at where banks are lending money and where our pensions are going – our goal is to shift £1bn into the green economy by 2025.’

Take control and start saving

MotherTree helps businesses take control of their money, inspire customers, live their values and slash emissions – while adding to their bottom line.

It covers four key areas: banking, pensions, investments and bills. While impact will always depend on a business client’s needs and goals, the average UK business can make the greatest impact, from a carbon emissions perspective, by switching banks.

‘A typical UK business working with MotherTree would save 75t CO2, and £10,000 per year’, Dan reveals. ‘That’s for current and savings accounts alone; the number is much bigger when we factor in investment, insurance and energy. We’ve seen companies we work with save tens of thousands of pounds through switching banks.’

Dan has watched these savings translate into happier employees and clients, serving as further proof that the business is doing the right thing for people, planet and profit.

‘Our aim is it give clients clarity, confidence and control when it comes to financial decisions’, Dan explains. ‘We do this through our MPS method: measure, prioritise and switch.’

The first step is to measure where the company currently is in the four areas of banking, pensions, investments and bills.

‘Each company is set up in a different way, so at this stage we really take time to understand the business requirements as much as the CO2 impact, values and return possibilities’, Dan explains.

The MotherTree team then gets to work filling in all the paperwork; ‘we take care of everything to switch and ultimately save you money’, Dan says.

Being a Mother Tree

When it comes to saving people money, Dan has form. He was on the founding team of Look After My Bills – which received the best ever deal on Dragons’ Den and saved the British public £127m in three years.

MotherTree is still committed to saving the public money and offers a similar service, using the same MPS approach, to give consumers clarity, confidence and control across the same areas.

The service, which costs from £50 per month, saves the average client around £2,000 and 10 tonnes in CO2 emissions – ‘that’s in addition to the peace of mind from knowing the financials and bills are doing good for the planet and your pocket’, Dan adds.

Costs for business start at £997, and typically the changes only require around two hours of a client’s time.

The team works with businesses of all types and sizes; ‘our smallest business is a one-woman band’, Dan tells us, ‘while our biggest business has 900 employees. The thing that binds all our clients together is that they are all led by values.’

You can get an overall sense of how green your company’s money is using the business Money Carbon Calculator on MotherTree’s website. It’s free to use and provides an overview of the amount of CO2 generated from your business bank and pension.

‘MotherTree is named after the research of a Canadian scientist, Suzanne Simard’, Dan explains. ‘She discovered that trees share nutrients, and that those sharing the most and providing the most protection are the ‘Mother Trees’. This is exactly what we are trying to do: share valuable information and reduce the risk of making decisions.’

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