A campaign lobbying for a more sustainable banking sector has urged people to move their money out of banks that fund the fossil fuel industry and drive climate change.
To mark Climate Week, Move Your Money has sought to highlight the role UK’s biggest five banks play in investing in companies that extract and burn fossil fuels and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the World Development Movement’s (WDM) Carbon Capital campaign, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds and Standard Chartered underwrote £170 billion in bonds and share issues for fossil fuel companies between 2010 and 2012.
“We live in a time where the chances are you believe that climate change is destructive and, importantly, very real”, said Charlotte Webster, campaign director at Move Your Money.
“At the same time, it’s more than likely your cash is being used to fund it. This is totally irrational, much like the behaviour of the big banks. We’re saying it doesn’t have to be this way. You can put your money where your mouth is and not invest in climate destruction.”
Move Your Money’s online scorecard, which rates banks according to their impact, ethics and customer service, gives RBS (seven out of 100), Barclays (eight out of 100), HSBC (25 out of 100) and Lloyds (33 out of 100) all relatively poor scores.
The campaign recommends that savers concerned by climate change search out banks with a better environmental rating.
Campaigners recently singled out HSBC as a target, as it underwrote more fossil fuel bonds and shares than any other UK bank over the two-year period.
In October, pro-divestment campaigners marched outside the bank’s Canary Wharf HQ, while in December 20 protestors dressed as Father Christmas delivered a tonne of coal to its Moorgate branch.
Campaigners fear that the big banks’ investments risk creating a “carbon bubble”, one that contradicts European carbon reduction targets and regulations.
There is a danger for investors that fossil fuels stocks will become ‘stranded assets’, as according to research, the majority of reserves will have to stay in the ground to prevent runaway global warming.
Last year, a report by a coalition of European non-governmental organisations ranked Citi, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America as the biggest financers of fossil fuel companies. It found that the trio collectively pumped over €21 billion (£17.6 billion) into the industry since 2005.