This article is an extract from our new Good Guide to Net Zero, which explains what net zero actually is, how it affects you, and how you can apply the concept to your own life and finances. In partnership with Triodos Bank, Ecology Building Society, Nest pensions, Ethex and Make My Money Matter.
As concern about the climate emergency grows, many people are looking to make more ethical choices in where they choose to save or borrow. Indeed, using a financial provider that enables you to use your money to help protect the environment is one of the most powerful things you can do to contribute to a greener society.
And now is the time to act. The world is getting hotter. Despite the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change six years ago, global emissions continue to increase, and we are perilously close to exceeding the agreed threshold of 1.5C of global heating. Human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented ways, bringing increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts, and flooding.
The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, otherwise known as COP26, taking place in Glasgow is an urgent opportunity for world leaders to commit to phasing out fossil fuels to achieve net zero by 2050. A major goal of COP26 is to mobilise finance, accelerating vital investment in low carbon technologies and nature- climate solutions.
Making a positive environmental and social impact
Tackling the climate emergency is a priority for Ecology Building Society, a mission-led organisation established in 1981 by founder members who were motivated by environmental concerns. As well as enabling our savers and borrowers to create mutual benefit from the flow of ethical finance, we ensure that money is used to create positive environmental and social impacts.
Our sustainable lending supports ecological new builds, renovation or conversion of buildings, and energy-saving improvements to existing properties. All our lending is funded by our members’ savings who can be confident that their money is making a difference. We also finance woodlands for conservation purposes, community-owned businesses, affordable housing and community-led housing and have supported over 3,500 projects since we were established 40 years ago.
We believe in rewarding borrowers who play their part in reducing carbon emissions. We do this through our unique ‘C-Change’ mortgages which incentivise energy efficiency through mortgage pricing based on the property’s energy performance or environmental impact.
Leading by example
We know that as well as helping others to live more sustainably, we must lead by example, and we’re continually seeking to reduce our environmental footprint. As well as being based in dedicated eco-build offices incorporating an airtight structure, high levels of insulation and solar panels, we offset the emissions from our operations and supply chains through accredited planting schemes.
Ecology is the first building society to publish the carbon footprint of its residential mortgage lending and has committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions for our operations by 2030 and net zero for our lending by 2050, at the latest.
Going beyond our own operations, we are playing a leading role in fostering change in the financial services sector at national and international level. In 2019, we
became the first building society to sign the first global sustainability framework for the banking industry, the UN Finance Initiative ‘Principles for Responsible Banking’. Signatories commit to align their business strategy and practice with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Many countries, organisations and institutions around the world have committed to achieve net zero, most with a target date of 2050. We believe that financial institutions should play a leading role in helping to achieve this.
Ecology is the first building society to sign up to the ‘Net Zero Banking Alliance’ (NZBA) launched in April this year, joining the UN ‘Race to Zero’ initiative and forming the banking element of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero for COP26.
By working on a national and international basis to promote more sustainable finance and supporting our borrowers and lenders in making ethical finance choices, we can play our part to build the greener and fairer society that will benefit us all.