Tuesday 27th September 2016                 Change text size:

Majority of Brits back ethical investment and two-thirds think fossil fuels are ‘risky’



coins By Alessandro Paiva via Freeimages

The majority of the British public want their investments to have a positive impact on the future and would be unhappy to discover their money is supporting unethical businesses, a new report has revealed.

Renewable investment platform Abundance Generation published the report – Consequences. Possibly the least used word in the investment world. A poll finds that almost three-quarters of Brits want to know where their money is being invested and 70% want to avoid unethical businesses.

In the report, Bruce Davis, founder and joint managing director of Abundance, states, “The finance industry has been slow to respond to individual ethical concerns, preferring to tell itself that ‘most people’ would prioritise a financial return over ethical consequences.”

He added, “We should not be surprised by [the report’s] findings. We act ethically without a second thought in the way we buy everything, but somehow when it comes to money we are supposed to be cold, calculating and ruthless.”

When asked what constitutes as an unethical activity, child labour comes out top, with over seven in ten UK adults identifying it as unethical, followed by human rights abuses. Recent news scandals have had an impact on the list, with tax avoidance and zero hour contracts being identified by 66% and 42% respectively.

Awareness of the risk of investing in fossil fuels is also increasing. Two-thirds of people agree that investment is fossil fuels are becoming more “risky”, with this figure rising to 80% among 18-34 year old.

Leaders of the G7 group have pledged to fully decarbonise their economies by the end of the century, leading to some analysts arguing investors should consider divestment.

The report concludes, “What is worrying is that other surveys asking the same questions must be giving much the same answer and yet we are seeing very little response from traditional institutions, merely rhetoric from the top which has yet to see any action on the ground. There is an alternative; new forms of investing and saving are being invented all the time, forms which are able to tune into customer ethics as well as delivering stable and long-term financial return.

“Perhaps this is the tipping pint when the industry takes notice. If it doesn’t you have to wonder just how much the burning deck needs to be on fire before they do react.”

Photo: Alessandro Paiva via Freeimages

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Further reading:

‘Carbon bubble’ risk reinforces the case for fossil fuel divestment

Report: fossil fuel companies need to consider climate action or risk shareholder value

Ed Davey: investors should be informed of fossil fuel investment risks

Growing risk around fossil fuels, say 75% of US sustainable investment industry


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