Changing the world is a lot easier than you might think. While making banners and marching is great fun, and to be recommended, you can also bring down the fossil fuel industry from your sofa, or on your lunchbreak. Here’s how:
1. Switch your bank
As was recently revealed in a report by Banktrack.org, one of fossil fuel’s biggest sources of funding is banks, with global banks pouring $1.9trn (£1.52trn) into coal, oil and gas companies since global leaders signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. In the UK Barclays Bank is one of the worst offenders, having invested more than £65 billion in fossil fuels since 2015, while HSBC is one of the biggest funders of coal expansion in South East Asia – where the world’s top 100 most polluted cities reside. If you don’t want your wages funding climate breakdown, consider switching to a better bank.
2. Move your pension
In the UK there is £2.5trn sitting in pensions, with most of that pouring into fossil fuels, tobacco, arms and other destructive industries through default funds – which the Pensions Policy Institute says 84 to 99 per cent of us stay in. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If you happen to be with Nest, the UK’s biggest independent pension provider, you can switch to their ethical fund tomorrow; the same goes for The People’s Pension and many policies with Standard Life and Aviva. These funds might not be perfect, but will usually exclude at least tobacco, coal and tar sands and chemical weapons. Find out more in The New Money Pension Manual [PDF download].
3. Open a stocks and shares ISA
Investing isn’t just for fat cats. Anyone can do it with as little as £25 per month through a low cost online investment platform. Not only will this be good for your pocket, but also for the planet if you choose one of the many top quality sustainable investment funds on the market. Find out more at The Big Exchange, the UK’s first sustainable-only investment platform, by the people behind The Big Issue. If you have a little more firepower, you might also consider investing through a specialist financial adviser like EQ Investors, who can also help you with your pension.
4. Invest in a local renewable energy project
If you want to make a more local impact, you might consider investing in a solar, wind or hydro-energy project near you. Minimum investment terms vary, but can be as low as £5. Check out Abundance Investment for more. If you want to go further afield, you can even put solar panels on homes in Africa through Energise Africa for a minimum of around £50. These investments are usually structured as peer to peer loans, which means you will be paid a yield (like an interest rate) over a set period of time. These are considered high risk, though, so don’t put in what you can’t afford to lose.
5. Find a green insurer
Not a lot of people know this, but there is a growing number of insurance products that can now protect the planet, as well as your pocket. For example, Evergreen Insurance will donate 25% of all the commission it receives from arranging your car insurance policy to nature and wildlife organisations, while InsureGreen claims to be the world’s first ever carbon neutral insurer. Home insurer Naturesave will donate 10 per cent of premiums toward environmental projects, while the Environmental Transport Association can arrange you a green insurance policy for your bike.
DISCLAIMER: None of this information constitutes financial advice and if you invest on the basis of this blog post, you do so at your own risk. Investments can go down as well as up and you could lose all of your capital. Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance.