‘Ello ‘ello: how to be a good COP with your money for COP21

Written by Lisa Stanley Mann on 5th November 2015

What the what is COP? 

Not a convention of policemen – this is the big F*** U – to climate change (#FUCC – more below).

If you’ve not heard of COP21 already, you soon will do. The world’s nations are preparing to meet in Paris from 30 November to 11 December to agree – for the first time in 20 years of these negotiations – a binding and universal accord on climate change.

Everyone’s getting in on it. Even the Pope published his view, with the express aim of influencing the conference.

While the overall goals of the Kyoto Protocol – including establishing new targets to limit greenhouse gas emissions and constrain global warming to no more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels – are key to achieving a global resolution, they will probably remain a long-distant dream.

But thanks to the increased attention of key people such as the Pope, the Governor of the Bank of England and many, many others (even, whisper it, managers in charge of some of the UK’s biggest multi-billion pound funds) there is the sense that, this year, the biggest players (EU, US and China) are approaching things rather more proactively.

Been here before, haven’t we? Yawns-Ville.

Wondering what it has got to do with you? Feeling a bit jaded and sceptical?

You don’t need to have booked your Eurostar ticket or be planning to join the climate activists to be able to play your part.

If, like most of humanity, you agree with the long-term premise of the conference, i.e. that climate change is real, happening now and requires drastic global action to combat its ever-increasing effects, there are a number of simple actions you can take within your own day-to-day life, which includes your cash. In fact, your cash is your most powerful weapon. And at the moment, tbh, it’s probably doing more planet-destroying than protecting.

So here are our 5 steps to being a good cop with your cash for COP21:

  1. Home energy

In addition to behavioural changes, like recycling to reduce waste-t0-landfill, reducing water wastage, insulating your home, a quick and easy win is to switch to a green energy tariff. Contrary to current thinking, these are in many cases cheaper than those offered by the more established, more polluting Big Six – read our investigation here. You can opt for a 100% green tariff with the likes of Good Energy or Ecotricity, or choose a more mainstream provider, such as Ovo Energy, which recently announced it has cut coal from its fuel mix.

2. Current account and cash savings

It is possible to be an arm-chair climate-change campaigner just by moving your current account and cash savings.

Firstly, think about your current account provider and what it does with the cash that flows in and out of your current account each month. It uses your money either for positive environmental action, or negative. Read our recent blog to discover some of the environmentally-destructive things banks can do with the money you deposit.

A good current account option is the Co-op, which relaunched its ethical policy earlier this year. But Nationwide is not a bad choice either. Here’s our market overview.

When it comes to savings, even the smallest amounts moved away from the more mainstream, less environmentally-sound institutions can make a big difference. You can choose a provider that supports organisations doing good for society and the planet, such as Charity Bank. Or you can choose to keep your money super close to home, and support the local – inherently more sustainable – economy, via local currencies, local credit unions or local building societies.

3. Renewable energy investments

Never mind what the ‘greenest Government ever’ plans to do to the so-far very environmentally and economically-effective FIT subsidies, there are still good – for the planet and your pocket – deals to be had when it comes to direct investments in renewable technologies. You can either opt for a community-based scheme, such as the TLS Hydro bonds, available on Ethex, or a targeted collective investment, such as Triodos Renewables plc. But these are not as safe as savings accounts and may not even be regulated, so please do read the risk warnings.

4. SRI investments

For those of you seeking more liquidity in your investments, you could choose an open-ended equity or fixed income fund from a range of well-performing (recently out-performing) investments available from a range of providers, either via an IFA (see here for a list of ethically-focused IFAs) or a fund platform – FundCalibre has recently launched a Responsible Investing section. Some examples include EdenTree Amity UK, Standard Life UK Ethical, Jupiter Ecology, Rathbone Ethical Bond or Triodos Sustainable Pioneer fund. Performance varies dramatically among these choices, so make sure you choose one that suits your financial goals as well as checking that the top ten holdings match your morals.

5. Crowdfunding platforms

Platforms such as Trillion Fund and Abundance have opened up the market for environmentally-focused crowdfunding opportunities over the last few years. For the really savvy among you looking at better pension saving, Abundance has recently launched the UK’s first crowdfunding SIPP.

As talk around COP21 increases, why not become a world-leader in your own right, and see what personal commitments you can make to help meet these important climate change goals?

Also, follow our hashtag #FUCC – it stands for Fuck U Climate Change, and tell us how you are saying it with your money.