Oil giants greenwash as Natwest cuts fossil fuel loans

Written by Lori Campbell on 21st Feb 2022

Major oil firms’ claims to be transitioning to clean energy are “greenwash,” finds a new study, as banking giant Natwest cuts its lending to the fossil fuel industry. Meanwhile, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan kicks off a £90 million green bond programme, new research shows switching to a heat pump will save £260 on energy bills as gas prices soar, and NS&I doubles the rate of interest on its Green Savings Bond. It’s the Good With Money weekly newsbrief.


Oil firms’ climate claims are greenwash, study finds

The claims of major oil companies to be in transition to clean energy are “greenwash,” according to the most comprehensive study to date.

The research, published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, examined the records of ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BP, which together are responsible for more than 10 per cent of global carbon emissions since 1965.

The researchers analysed data over 12 years up to 2020 and found the company claims do not align with their actions, which include increasing rather than decreasing oil and gas exploration.

The study found a sharp rise in mentions of “climate”, “low-carbon” and “transition” in annual reports in recent years, especially for Shell and BP, and increasing pledges of action in strategies. But concrete actions were rare and the researchers concluded: “Financial analysis reveals a continuing business model dependence on fossil fuels along with insignificant and opaque spending on clean energy.”

How to avoid greenwash

Natwest cuts lending to oil and gas firms

Banking giant Natwest says it cut lending to the oil and gas sector by 21 per cent in 2021 and aims to go further as part of efforts to decarbonise its lending and reach net zero emissions.

It comes after the bank warned in 2020 that it planned to cut off financing for larger oil and gas companies if they failed to have a credible plan to transition to net zero.

Natwest said its lending to oil and gas companies fell by a fifth to £3.25 billion last year, and total lending to the sector now made up 0.7 per cent of its total loan book.

Financial firms around the world are increasingly committing to the net-zero target as part of efforts to tackle global warming, although most have yet to put firm plans in place, particularly over the shorter-term.

A new study by 28 environmental campaign groups has found financial institutions channeled £1.10 trillion into the coal industry between January 2019 and November 2021. Those from the UK, US, China, Japan, India and Canada were responsible for more than 86 per cent of coal financing and investment.

Top 6 ethical current accounts in 2022

London Mayor kicks off £90m green bond programme

The Mayor of London has unveiled a new £90 million green bond investment aimed at mobilising around £500 million to help towards the city’s net zero target.

The funding is earmarked for projects that improve the energy efficiency of social housing and public buildings, as well as local energy projects that integrate, solar and low-carbon heating.

Khan said: “I’ve committed to making London net zero by 2030, faster than any other comparable city. We are facing a pivotal moment in our efforts to tackle the triple dangers of toxic air pollution, climate change and congestion to the health of Londoners and wider society.

“I also want London to be a zero-pollution city and have expanded our Ultra Low Emission Zone to cover all of inner London so that far fewer children have to grow up breathing toxic air.”

Top 5 green ISAs for your climate-friendly cash


Heat pump switch to save £260 on energy bills as gas prices soar

Households that have switched from a gas boiler to a heat pump are set to save more than £260 per year on their energy bills when prices spike from the beginning of April, new research shows.

The upcoming 84 per cent spike in the price of household gas will push the price of running a gas boiler up to £934 a year, according to the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), a Brussels-based non-profit specialising in the environmental impact of natural gas and power.

Meanwhile, an efficient heat pump will be able to heat a home for £723 per year, despite a big jump in electricity prices.

“Our analysis shows that statements that heat pumps are more expensive to run than gas boilers are misleading,” said Jan Rosenow, an associate at Oxford University and RAP’s Europe director.

NS&I rates double but still lag behind market peers

NS&I has doubled the rate of interest it pays on its Green Savings Bond, but the returns still lag market peers and leave savers’ cash being eroded by inflation.

The latest issue of the three-year account from the government-backed savings provider will pay a rate of 1.3 per cent, up from 0.65 per cent at its launch.

The account, available to anyone aged over 16, invests in projects to fight climate change, including efforts to make transport greener and increase renewable energy use. Savers can deposit from £100 to £100,000 over the fixed term.

Announcing the new rate, economic secretary to the Treasury John Glen said it “reflects upward movement across the wider fixed-term market”. However, experts said the deal falls short of what is on offer elsewhere and is unlikely to attract all but the keenest green savers.

What is an NS&I Green Savings Bond?

Don't miss the good stuff!

Sign up for the newest and best green money deals in your inbox every week