Where we choose to keep our savings and pensions has a bigger climate impact than you may realize. Major banks frequently invest billions-worth of depositor money in fossil fuels, funding the expansion of environmentally destructive industries.
But as customers, we have power to steer banks toward more ethical practices by moving our accounts and deciding who to bank with. Choosing a sustainable bank or credit union helps build momentum for a banking system aligned with climate goals.
The Problem with Big Banks
The world's largest private banks have funneled trillions into fossil fuel projects, even following the 2015 Paris Agreement. JPMorgan Chase alone has invested over $317 billion in fossil fuels since 2016. Sadly, Big Bank usually rhymes with Big Oil.
By financing coal, oil, and gas, banks are expanding the industries driving climate change. They profit from practices that scientists warn must end to limit global warming and prevent climate catastrophe.
Tips to Choose an Eco-Friendly Bank
Seeking out sustainable banking options allows you to align your money with your values with little to no effort. Deciding how your pension is invested and which bank to use is a one-time step that has a lasting impact: change your bank once and make your money work for positive change for the rest of the time!
More sustainable banks use deposits more responsibly by:
Avoiding investment in fossil fuels, deforestation, and other environmentally harmful activities
Investing in clean energy, eco-friendly projects, and community development
Implementing robust environmental policies on lending and transparency
Offering green loans and mortgages for energy efficiency upgrades
The nonprofit Bank.Green has a directory for finding ethical banks and credit unions in your area. You can also research institutions' environmental commitments before opening accounts to make sure their approach aligns with your values.
In addition to switching to a more sustainable bank, you can take action by joining campaigns that are pushing for change. The UK-based Make My Money Matter has petitions calling on pension funds to divest from fossil fuels. By adding your name, you can help pressure providers to implement environmentally sustainable investment policies and stop financing climate change.
Collective action is key to shifting finance away from destructive industries. Divestment by account holders signals to mainstream banks that they must reform and chart a path to net zero to remain competitive.
Collective action creates change.
As more people bank green, it pressures the entire industry to stop financing fossil fuels and climate change.
Where we bank matters.