Climate Killer Banks

How bad is your bank doing as far as global warming is concerned? Are they full of empty promises or full of promising actions?

The question is: “private banks are the first to claim to fight climate change – but do they put their money where their mouth is?”. A group of NGOs know offers us an answer – or better, a rating of the dirtiest banks out there.

If your money is with one of the big banks, you can already start worrying now; it’s likely yours might be within the ranking you are about to see.

The report published in the homepage of the World Development Movement sums up the findings of a group of NGOs (Urgewald, Groundwork, Earth Life and BankTrack). They figured that looking at investments in the coal industry gives a quite clear picture of what a bank’s attitude towards climate change is. The coal industry “the major culprit in the drama of climate change”. 93 of the world’s leading banks are included and were analyzed for their “support for 31 major coal-mining companies and 40 producers of coal-fired electricity, the biggest source of man-made CO2 emissions”.

You can find an overview of the top-polluters amongst the banks below:

Barclays, recently crowned as the worst company of the year, is amongst the top 5 and the Swiss couple UBS and Credit Suisse are within the top 10. However, the top 4 banks are from the United States. If you think that the tendency should definitely be negative, you’ll be surprised: “financing (of coal plants) nearly doubled between 2005, the year the Kyoto Protocol came to force, and 2010.”

The writers of the report clearly state what the banks should do: “stop bankrolling climate change and quit coal. We ask them to shift their portfolios away from dirty fossil fuels to renewables and energy efficiency, and finally to set and implement ambitious CO2 reduction goals for their financed emissions.”

Maybe you don’t want to wait for them to change policy. In that case you should simply move your money! Click on the link to find out more about your bank (if you’re from the UK) and to see some alternatives. Also check out: Think Bank (an introduction to a different kind of banking).



2 thoughts on “Climate Killer Banks

  1. There seem to be very few things considered too dirty a source of income by most financial institutions. Here in the US there has been a large movement to shift money out of banks and place it instead in credit unions. Credit unions are non-profits, and far less likely to act in such a predatory fashion.

    In a related matter, many people have invested in their future by saving money in retirement accounts called “401K” or “mutual fund.” Money saved in these types of accounts is invested by a professional fund manager in a wide variety of companies. This minimizes risk, but the choice of companies is not made by the investor, it is made by the fund manager. This means that many people saving for retirement are unknowingly supporting BP, Monsanto, Barclays, and other such unscrupulous companies.

    I have removed all my retirement money from 401K and mutual funds and have instead invested in a retirement program called “IRA” (Individual Retirement Account) and “Roth IRA.” In these programs it is possible for me to pick individual companies in which I wish to invest, so I have made financial decisions based on ethical and long-term views, not simply short-term profit at any cost.

    • That sounds really good. I will open up an account with Triodos Netherlands on my return to Europe (in case I find a job/internship that is :D). A new start in a new country is a good opportunity to make things right and think them through.

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