Ranked: the UK’s DIRTIEST banks – and the greenest

Written by Lori Campbell on 29th Apr 2024

The UK’s dirtiest and greenest banks have been revealed in a first-of-its-kind climate performance ranking.

Environmental organisation Bank.Green ranked the 103 financial institutions on a scale from “Great” to “Worst.” And it found that some of those marketing their climate concerns the loudest are the worst offenders. Meanwhile, some unexpected organisations have scored well due to their progressive plans for a fossil fuel-free future.

Each provider has been rated on criteria including whether they lend to the fossil fuel sector, their financial support for renewable energy projects, their measurement and disclosure of financed emissions, and whether they have a clear exclusion policy for coal, oil and gas.

The best available ranking of “Great” was awarded to 14 institutions, while an equal number were rated as “Worst.” 

Many of the highest scoring banks such as Triodos (a Good With Money ‘Good Egg’ firm), The Co-operative Bank and Metro Bank have transparent policies against lending to the fossil fuel sector, or business models that preclude it.

But some of the dirtiest banks in the UK own brands that otherwise appear sustainable. For example, First Direct and M&S Bank are wholly-owned by HSBC, one of the worst climate offenders, and Tesco Bank is owned by Barclays, the number one fossil fuel financier in Europe.

Meanwhile, Natwest and Lloyds Bank continue to present a mixed picture. Both have a great ratio of financing renewable energy compared to fossil fuels and have scored highly on other metrics, but continue to provide significant support to the fossil fuel sector.

Bank.Green says that while many banks are ramping down their fossil fuel investments, not enough are ramping up renewable energy lending to meet the urgency of the climate crisis. Nor, it says, are they providing favourable terms for green loans, such as those for electric cars, heat pumps or other fossil fuel reducing opportunities.

The volunteer-led organisation says UK building societies need to be more transparent about banking partners they use to provide savings accounts and other services. In some cases, it found that savings accounts were provided via banks rated “Worst.”

The UK’s dirtiest banks:

Bank of London and The Middle East  WORST 
Barclays  WORST 
Chase  WORST 
First Direct  WORST 
M&S Bank  WORST 
Monese  WORST 
Moneybox  WORST 
Tembo/Nude  WORST 
Saga Savings  WORST 
Santander  WORST 
Standard Chartered  WORST 
Tesco  WORST 
Weatherbys Bank  WORST 


The UK’s most ethical banks and building societies


TheUK’s greenest banks and building societies:

Charity Bank  GREAT 
Co-operative Bank  GREAT 
Coventry Building Society  GREAT 
Ecology Building Society  GREAT 
Investec  GREAT 
Metro Bank  GREAT 
Nationwide Building Society  GREAT 
OakNorth Bank  GREAT 
Oxbury  GREAT 
Tandem  GREAT 
Triodos  GREAT 
Unity Trust Bank  GREAT 
Virgin Money
(including Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire

Bank.Green’s ratings of all 103 UK banking institutions and full findings, including its methodology, can be found here

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