According to new research from Good Egg company Triodos Bank, over a third of Britons now suffer from ‘eco-anxiety,’ with 34 per cent of us now regularly fretting over what is now being widely – and rightly – relabelled the climate crisis.
Despite the doom and gloom headline, though, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Awareness about environmental issues is at its highest level ever and, encouragingly, this is starting to translate into action.
Down at the grassroots school children are joining eco-anarchists of all shapes and sizes within Extinction Rebellion to demand change at the top level and – incredibly – this is beginning to translate into action.
In the UK, we have just become the first country to enshrine net-zero carbon emissions into law, while across the world countries are making bold moves on both carbon emissions and plastic, with both China and India being forced into action to clean up their deadly air and waterways (the Ganges is now apparently officially toxic).
On a personal level we are taking action too – according to Triodos, over half of those surveyed would consider going completely plastic free while 37 per cent would instal renewable energy technology in their homes to solve the climate crisis.
Top 5 actions Britons are prepared to take to fight the climate crisis:
- Go plastic free (57%)
- Install renewable energy technology at home (37%)
- Give up car or buy an electric vehicle (22%)
- Switch to a bank that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels (16%)
- Stop buying new clothes (15%)
On the more radical end, 15 per cent of us would be prepared to give up flying, rising to 17 per cent for those aged 45 and above (perhaps unsurprisingly younger less travelled people are less keen) while 10 per cent would consider not having children in order protect the planet.
(Arguably, any excuse to virtue-signal our way out of the crippling FOMO created by smug travel blogs AND pooey nappies is a win. Plus a huge money saver! But we digress.)
As ever, however, people are neglecting the single most powerful – and EASY – thing that anyone can do to make an enormous change overnight: MOVE-THEIR-MONEY.
Only 16 per cent of those surveyed by Triodos would consider switching to a bank that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels to help solve the climate crisis, for example, while no-one was asked about whether they would consider moving their pension.
The latter is crucial. Pensions are the single biggest pool of managed money in the world, with £32 trillion currently sitting in pensions – half of all the money in the global financial system.
Awareness is now growing over the role banks play in financing climate breakdown, with groups like Carbon Tracker and Momentum making a lot of noise about the £1.5 trillion global banks have poured into the fossil fuel industry since world leaders signed the Paris climate accord in 2015. Less, however, has been raised around the influence of pensions.
Again, though, this is changing. We have seen some big moves across the world, with divestment becoming the latest trend among many pension funds; from Norway’s gargantuan sovereign wealth fund to the London Authority Pension Fund, which yesterday announced it would be selling out of Exxon Mobil.
Noisy bloggers like ourselves along with action groups like Share Action are also piling pressure on the finance industry to do more to help people align their pensions with their principles.; and things are happening. Just last week Aviva became only the second major pension provider to launch an ethical option as standard for its workplace pension schemes.
With politicians also now starting to wake up and smell the coffee on pensions, you will likely see much, much more on the power of pensions (especially from us!) over coming months.
Taking back control
Getting to grips with where our money is going is not only important for the planet, though, but for our wellbeing. Returning to the fearful phrase ‘eco-anxiety’, Triodos reports that nearly a third of us (29 per cent) feel overwhelmed by the climate crisis, which rises to 40 per cent among those aged 16 to 24.
Feeling overwhelmed is not Good. Rather than translate into action, it tends to turn into feelings of powerlessness that then translate into inertia and escapism. Older people are a little more resilient to current doom and gloom, with the survey showing that 27 per cent of over 55’s believe we will find a solution to the climate crisis, compared to just 20 per cent of those aged 35 to 44.
For the average person, though, focusing on finding a solution to the entire climate crisis is not only futile, but a bit mad.
The best and most important thing we down here can do is ensure our small corners of the world are functioning as close to how we want them to as possible, and a huge part of that is making sure whatever wealth we have is not falling into the wrong hands.
Bevis Watts, chief executive of Triodos Bank UK, comments: “We want to empower more people to put their money behind the environmental movement and really make a difference. Money doesn’t have to be invested in dirty fossil fuels – it can be used to make a positive difference to society, be it socially, culturally or environmentally.
“Switching banks is one of the most powerful steps you can make for people and planet, yet it is often considered an afterthought.”
If you are interested in switching your bank, insurer, pension or even energy provider to a sustainable option, check out the The Good Lists – you’re complete guide to turning your life green.
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