Supporting Information

Background to the issue

It is fairly well understood that every purchase has environmental and social implications. What is less known is that our money in the bank is used to provide loans to other companies. The companies receiving these loans are selected by our banks, and therefore we do not have direct influence over them.

Unfortunately, high street banks commonly make questionable decisions when deciding which companies to fund. Our money is often used to fund the fossil fuel industry, and therefore, we may unknowingly be contributing to the further extraction of fossil fuels! UK banks have invested nearly £150 billion into fossil fuels since the Paris Climate agreement in 2016, with the following banks consistently demonstrating unethical and environmentally destructive practices (according to Ethical Consumer):

  • Barclays
  • Santander
  • HSBC (including First Direct and M&S bank)
  • RBS (including NatWest and Ulster Bank)
  • Lloyds (including Halifax and Bank of Scotland)

Similar patterns can be seen in pension investments, whereby our money in pensions is used to fund unethical environmental practices.

What can we do?

We as the consumer have a great deal of power over the market. By making ethical choices about what we buy, we send a message to the supplier about our values. In this way, we have the power to make eco-friendly products more readily available on the market whilst phasing out environmentally destructive ones. Ethical and environmental standards (e.g. Corp B, Fairtrade or ISO14000) can be a good way of determining whether products are sustainable. Ethical consumption is particularly important in a business setting where products are bought in large volumes.

As an individual however, the best way to use your money ethically is to reduce consumption as much as possible. Consider whether you can borrow or fix things before resorting to buying new.

Furthermore, while we can’t directly control where our banks invest our money, we can take direct action by switching to banks which don’t invest in fossil fuels (both for current and business accounts). Better still, we can select banks that only invest in environment improving activities (e.g. Triodos bank invests in countryside restoration and renewable energy). Other important things to consider when changing banks are: Do my bank’s practices breach human rights? Is it funding the firearms trade? Does it avoid paying its fair share of tax?

You can maximise your positive impact by informing your original bank about your reasons for leaving, in the hopes that it will convince them to divest from fossil fuels and change their practices.  

These are the top 5 most ethical banks according to the good shopping guide:

 The same applies for pensions, ISAs and other investments. You have control over where these investments are made!


Coming soon…

Articles and websites to widen your knowledge

Good With Money

Great website and facebook page with lots of sustainable money savy tips and educational articles

Fossil Fuel Divestment 101: A Complete Guide to Divesting Your Money (UK)

Enable FLP

Climate Crisis Pensions – are you moving yours away from fossil fuels?

FOssil Free UK

Major investment manager BMO divests

Go Fossil Free

Move your money


Why your current account is funding environmental destruction

Bank Track

Banking on Climate Change


How to switch your bank account

Ethical Consumer

Shopping guide: Fossil Free Investment Funds

Fossil Free Funds

How to make your investments match your values

Rainforest Action Network

Interactive Data: Banking of Climate Change

Good Shopping Guide

Ethical Banks & Building Societies‍‍‍ Ethical Comparison Table

Bank Track

Independent Bank Watchdog

The Guardian

How to get your pension fund to divest from fossil fuels

Good With Money

Great website and facebook page with lots of sustainable money savy tips and educational articles

Books to widen knowledge

Click the images to find copies online…

Adult’s Books

Additional Information

Fossil fuel funding

The graph below displays the global banks which contributed most to the fossil fuel industry over the past three years (2016-2018). Barclays contributed a total of $85 billion dollars ($24 bn in 2018 alone) whilst HSBC contributed $57 billion ($18 bn in 2018). Santander also heavily funded the fossil fuel industry contributing ~$15 billion from 2016 – 2018.