Lyn Climate Action – Finding Out How Green is My Money?
Apparently one of the most effective actions we can take is to switch our bank and savings and any investment accounts from those which invest in fossil fuels to one which does not. Even better if they support green initiatives. To change bank for this reason not only stops your money from being used in ways that will be destructive of the environment but also, most importantly, sends out a message that more people are unwilling to invest in fossil fuels in the future. There was speculation that the appalling idea of drilling in the Artic was already beginning to look unlikely as financial institutions would be reluctant to invest knowing that such schemes would be unpopular. If such banks are starved of their funds, the damage they can do is diminished.
On the Lyn Climate Action Facebook group, I had previously seen a link posted to SwitchIt. This is a site where you can find out if your money is funding fossil fuels. I thought I would try out my own bank to see what they were like. Mine, like all the big ones (I checked!) has a terrible track record on funding fossil fuels. Note: one or two might claim to be good but if you check up on their parent bank you might find otherwise!
On the SwitchIt link you are offered some positive alternatives from independent sites. Currently, at the time of writing, there are three: Triodos Bank. The Co-operative Bank and Nationwide. I explored all three and found that Triodos Banks looked to me the best as all its investments support people and the environment and many are in green initiatives. Furthermore, Triodos also does not require you to have to pass through any (ethical or otherwise) hoops other than the credit check. Its UK base is in Bristol and it is on the FSCS register so you get the government compensation if anything happens to them.
Switching banks is in fact a very easy matter. I first opened my account and then filled in a form online to switch. After that it is all done for you: your account is moved on a future date of your choosing and all payees, direct debits, etc. are switched automatically.
Do first write to your ‘bad’ bank them to let them know that you intend to switch accounts for this reason. This will make your move all the more effective.
Setting up the account in the first place takes a bit of time of course but it can all be done directly online. With Triodos*, a debit card is delivered by post and activating it involves a simple text or automated telephone call. After that it is an easy matter of filling in the online form to activate the switching process. What I really loved is that there is a great App that is easily downloaded from which you can quickly make payments and all other main transactions.
My next step will be to switch my savings to a Triodos savings account or ISA. There are many different options for investment also. If you have a pension plan it is worth either changing your provider, or the range of businesses you allow them to invest in on your behalf (e.g., not connected to fossil fuels) or putting pressure on your pension provider to divest from fossil fuels. Even with a public pension you can agitate for this.
I had not changed my bank in forty years, but it is great to feel this will make a difference and now even my bank card is made from renewable and biodegradable materials!
Do consider joining me in a climate caring switch.
*The current account has a small charge per month because the bank, being an ethical one, does not want to cover the costs of banking by applying excessive overdraft charges. Other accounts such as the ISA’s or savings accounts have no fee.