Ethical finance: The ultimate form of climate activism (Nov 24, 2023)

At the panel event organised by Ethex as part of Ethical Consumer Magazine week, we had a fantastic conversation around the power of personal finance. My high-level takeaways based on the discussion between the panelists and the questions raised by the audience are:

  1. The carbon footprint of our financial assets (our savings, investments and pensions) could be hundreds of times greater than the carbon footprint of our lifestyle. Why? Because our savings are funding businesses and those businesses have very different size carbon footprints. Do you want to be funding Shell or Patagonia? It's our money, so we should choose.

  2. Reducing our financial carbon footprint by 2 tonnes a year could be easier than achieving a similar reduction by adjusting our lifestyle. A family of four going 100% vegan would lower their combined carbon footprint by about 2 tonnes of CO2 a year, a big sacrifice for a big impact, but the same CO2 reduction could also be achieved by moving £10,000 of savings from a Barclays bank account to a Triodos account according to Dan Sherrard-Smith at

  3. By moving your money, you can force investment funds, pension funds and banks to focus on lending and investing in businesses that cut rather than emit CO2. As it is much easier for them to invest billions a year in large established businesses, we can encourage them to try harder by diverting our money to institutions that are making the additional effort to fund smaller, innovative companies tackling decarbonisation and climate change. While changing our bank account is relatively easy, moving our pension fund is harder, but the rewards are also greater. UK pension funds hold about £3 trillion in investments. About 10% of that is invested in the fossil fuel industry. According to Make My Money Matter, greening your pension is 21x more effective at reducing your carbon footprint than giving up flying, going veggie and switching energy provider combined. So If you can't change your pension fund, at least write to them and ask them to change.

Finally, choosing where to invest your money directly does require more effort as many larger funds lack transparency and investing in companies or renewable projects directly requires doing some homework to make sure it is safe. There are a growing number of organisation like that offer direct investment opportunities in smaller renewable projects or Money Movers that can help you set up an investment club to share the research with friends so you all make better, greener investment choices while earning a better return than the bank.

To learn more, watch the webinar organised by Ethex in full here:

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