Don’t be a fossil fool, urges Triodos

Written by Lori Campbell on 1st Apr 2020

Ethical bank Triodos has launched a new campaign ‘Don’t be a fossil fool’ to encourage consumers to shift their money away from fossil fuels this ISA season.

Nearly two thirds (63 percent) of Brits now want their money to be urgently moved away from fossil fuels and invested in clean energy instead, according to a new survey by Triodos.

A similar majority (61 percent) acknowledges that fossil fuels are undoubtedly damaging the planet, and four in 10 (41 percent) believe having any money invested in the fossil fuel industry is morally wrong.

More than half (52 per cent) of Brits think fossil fuel investments are “foolish” given the climate emergency.

Investing 

Triodos’ campaign is a wake-up call for people to be aware of where their money is invested and not to join the growing number of ISA ‘fossil fools’.

Thousands of Brits are unknowingly investing their money into ISAs that support the fossil fuel industry (as much as £16 billion could be supporting fossil fuels through British stocks and shares ISAs).

Bevis Watts, CEO of Triodos Bank UK, said: “The UK’s banks should be using the money saved or invested with them to protect the long-term interests of their customers in creating a sustainable future.

“They’re making fossil fools out of customers, by using their savings to fund fossil fuel projects that are harming everyone’s future, and banks should be pressuring energy companies to change faster. This is all in spite of a clear climate emergency and a growing divestment movement across the world calling for action.”

Lack of transparency

Part of the problem is a chronic lack of transparency. The research reveals that two thirds of Brits (65 percent) admit to having no idea if their money or savings currently go towards supporting the climate-damaging fuels, such as oil, gas or coal.

Seven in 10 (70 percent) Brits say that banks and savings providers need to be more transparent about where their money is invested.

Mr Watts said: “There is a strong demand for much greater transparency over where banks invest their money, enabling customers to make informed choices.

“As you can see from the findings, the majority of people don’t want any of their money to support fossil fuels; so let’s give them the opportunity to act on this, and give them options for ISA savings and investments that combat the climate crisis, while also helping them put money aside for the future.”

Switching to an ethical bank

In line with the call for change, half of Brits (50 per cent) want to take action with their money, saying they do not want their own money to support the fossil fuel industry in any way. More than a third (37 per cent) would switch to a bank that guarantees it will not support the industry.

As the climate emergency continues to take centre stage in global politics, the ISA season provides an opportunity for people to reassess the impact of their savings and investments.

However, despite a growing awareness of urgent climate issues, a third of Brits (30%) don’t realise that moving your money out of fossil-fuel-supporting banks is one of the most effective ways to take action on climate change.

The call for divestment – putting pressure on companies that support the extraction of fossil fuels to invest in renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels – is gaining momentum. Almost half of Brits (48 per cent) are seeing the new divestment movement as a positive step, as more and more pension funds and other organisations move their money away from oil, gas and coal.

Governments must ‘lead by example’

The survey of 2,000 Brits revealed that consumers believe governments and local authorities should lead by example and move pension funds away from fossil fuels.

A new report from Parliament’s £700 million pension fund this week revealed that almost a third is now being invested in low carbon and environmentally sustainable funds. It follows calls from hundreds of MPs to align the fund with the government’s legally binding climate commitments. However, the pension’s trustees have stopped short of divesting entirely from fossil fuel companies and retain multimillion-pound investments in the oil companies Royal Dutch Shell and BP.

Overall, the movement for individual action in response to the climate emergency is strong, with many Brits saying they are prepared to make a number of changes to their lives to make a positive difference on climate change. In particular, over a quarter (26 per cent) are prepared to switch to an ethical bank.

However, the research also shows a misunderstanding of the biggest contributors to climate change amongst Brits. The majority (64 per cent) wrongly said single use plastic has the biggest impact on climate change, while only 34 per cent correctly answered fossil fuels.

Dr Alexandra Jellicoe, public and environmental health scientist, said: “The fossil fuels industry is by far the most damaging to our global climate. Reducing our dependence on these polluting fuels is arguably the single most urgent challenge we face if we are to avoid a really unmanageable climate crisis in the next few decades.

“We all need to make sure our money isn’t supporting an industry that is harming our planet. Switching your bank or savings provider is an effective way to make a difference and reduce the flow of money towards oil, gas and coal projects.”