The UK’s ‘Big Five’ high street banks – HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest and Lloyds – are being urged to end their dangerous relationship with fossil fuel expansion in a new campaign.
The call from Make My Money Matter (MMMM), backed by clear guidance from the International Energy Agency, builds on growing consumer demand and mounting international pressure for banks to urgently act on the climate crisis.
Since the landmark Paris Climate Agreement was struck, the Big Five UK high street banks have collectively funnelled a massive $367.6 billion (£311.3 billion) towards the fossil fuel sector, and $141 billion (£120 billion) towards companies at the forefront of oil and gas expansion**.
Research from MMMM – the campaign group led by Love Actually director Richard Curtis – shows that customers do not support this, and their expectations are shifting. It found that half (44 per cent) of Brits think banks should stop financing fossil fuel expansion and more than one third (38 per cent) think they should stop financing the fossil fuel sector altogether.
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Mr Curtis said: “The evidence is clear; our banks are in a dangerous relationship with the fossil fuel industry. In the six years since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed, the UK’s five biggest high street banks have provided billions to the companies at the forefront of fossil fuel expansion. This isn’t just bad for the planet and the people who live on it – it goes against the wishes of millions of UK citizens who want their banks tackling the climate crisis, not fuelling the fire.
“But it doesn’t have to be this way. Our banks can be the beating heart of a cleaner, greener, and fairer economy. By stopping financing fossil fuel expansion and directing more money towards climate solutions, not climate catastrophes, HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest and Lloyds can send a clear signal to the fossil fuel industry that the future is green, all while ensuring UK citizens truly have banks they can be proud of. Now is the moment for urgent, ambitious, extraordinary action from our banks – their customers are expecting it, and the world urgently needs it.”
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To support the launch of its new campaign, MMMM surveyed UK bank account holders, including customers at the Big Five high street banks. Research revealed that while almost three quarters (70 per cent) of customers believe that banks have a responsibility to tackle climate change, the overwhelming majority (86 per cent) do not think their bank is currently doing enough to protect our planet.
A widespread lack of knowledge among UK account holders is resulting in customers’ values being undermined – particularly among customers at the Big Five UK high street banks. The majority (77 per cent) of customers surveyed at HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest and Lloyds said they have no idea that their banks finance fossil fuel expansion which is driving us ever closer towards catastrophic climate scenarios.
|Finance towards oil & gas expanders*
(2016 – 2021)
|Customers surveyed unaware bank finances fossil fuel expansion||Customers surveyed don’t think bank does enough on climate change||Customers surveyed would switch if they knew bank finances fossil fuel expansion|
|The Big Five||£120 billion||77%||86%||29%|
*All figures taken from ShareAction’s 2022 Oil & Gas Expansion report
In 2021 alone, HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest and Lloyds provided $15.7 billion in finance to the top 50 oil and gas expanders***. When customers find out, they want action. When questioned by Make My Money Matt, almost one third (29%) of customers surveyed at the Big Five UK high street banks would switch to a bank that doesn’t finance fossil fuel expansion if they found that their bank was funnelling money towards new oil and gas projects.
Make My Money Matter’s new campaign, which follows the recent greenwashing investigations into HSBC, calls on the UK’s Big Five high street banks to listen to their customers and to the science and stop financing fossil fuel expansion.
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Lucie Pinson, Founder and Director of Reclaim Finance, said: “The UK banks urgently need to up their game and move their money out of new oil and gas. Both the United Nations and the International Energy Agency recently confirmed that the age of fossil fuels must swiftly end and be replaced by clean energy to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Yet, our Oil and Gas Policy Tracker shows that most UK banks do not even have policies in place to stop supporting oil and gas expansion. This is Net Zero greenwash and UK customers are right to demand better.”
*44% of UK bank account holders think banks should stop financing fossil fuel expansion according to polling commissioned by Make My Money Matter and conducted by Censuswide in October 2022.
- 98% of the UK population is estimated to have a bank account according to Mintel’s 2021 UK Current Accounts Market Report
- 19% of the UK population is estimated to be under 16 according to the Office for National Statistics.
- The UK’s over 16 population is estimated to be 54,351,000. 98% of 54,351,000 = 53,263,980
- 44% think banks should stop financing fossil fuel expansion, equating to 23,436,15 – ‘over 23 million’ for communications purposes.
**Findings taken from ShareAction’s 2022 Oil & Gas Expansion Report. You can read this here.
***Findings taken from the Banking on Climate Chaos Fossil Fuel Finance 2022 report. You can read this here.
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