Last updated: July 2016
Move Your Money Campaign
Fionn Travers-Smith, Campaign Manager of Move Your Money, explains how the group is increasingly turning its attention to the climate change impacts of banks.
At Move Your Money we focus on banks as institutions, looking at the power that they wield, the purposes that they put it to, and the ways in which we can disrupt and reverse these processes by taking action on the banking system.
Now when it comes to climate change, the biggest banks are at least as bad as the fossil fuel producers in driving global warming. They actively work to promote and expand fossil fuel production and exploitation, and seek to profit from it.
Indeed, without banks and financiers, most fossil fuel projects would not get off the ground at all. This is because fossil fuel projects require a massive amount of expenditure up front to dig up those fossil fuels, before they can be sold on, profited from, and, ultimately, burned.
And that’s where banks come in – they provide the finance, funding, and facilities that make this process possible. As a result, if we can break the stream of finance to fossil fuel companies, then we can break the cycle that is hurtling humanity towards climate chaos. With no money in the till, the producers cannot drill.
The Ethical Banking Scorecard
So to help break the toxic link between banks and fossil fuels, Move Your Money has run a number of campaigns in this area, as well as continuing to support others in this space.
This started in 2013 when we released our first holistic Ethical Banking Scorecard (below), produced in partnership with Ethical Consumer, which measures and ranks over 70 UK banks and building societies on their ethical and sustainable credentials.
Click on the scorecard to enlarge
The scorecard tracks 27 different metrics across 5 different areas for each financial institution, which includes funding for Arctic oil and investments in new coal projects as two of those metrics. By using the Scorecard, you can choose to bank with more ethical and sustainable providers, knowing that your money is not being used to fund climate change.
The Divest campaign
In 2014 we then launched our Divest campaign, which profiles just how much the big banks pour into fossil fuels – £66 billion into fossil fuel extraction in 2012 alone (see below).
The campaign also profiles just how much the big banks are promoting fracking, showing their stated positions on fracking as well as their relationships with fracking companies – because as we all know, actions speak louder than words.
Once again, the focus wasn’t just on exposing information on bank funding of fossil fuels, but to take action to end it. So we convinced over 2,500 people to move their money away from fossil fuel funding banks, and into fossil-free alternatives. We also threw ‘divestment parties’ in seven cities across the UK, raising the profile of the issue and encouraging even more people to take action to save our habitable planet.
Most recent campaign
More recently, we’ve been campaigning for HSBC to #QuitCoal when they release their new metals and mining policy. Since its last release, HSBC has been making a lot of noise recognising stranded assets (stocks and shares that have become valueless) and the risks of climate change to the global economy, as well as signing up to the COP21 Paris Pledge.
In response, we’ve helped hundreds of people write to the bank to pressure them to turn their words into action, and to ditch coal funding completely from their portfolio. We took this message directly to the HSBC board at this year’s AGM.
Finally, we’ve also remained active in holding other big banks to account for their climate funding, and for calling out the worst offenders in this space. RBS, for example, was recently lauded by campaign groups for apparently cutting its support for fossil fuels by 70%.
Move Your Money was one of the only organisations to point out that this reduction in fossil fuel funding was simply because RBS has sold its loan book to Japanese bank Mizuho, meaning that there has actually been no real reduction in the amount of fossil fuel projects that are receiving funding.
In so much as actions speak louder than words, this is a technical but crucial difference – and one that Move Your Money will continue to expose.