New report shows UK High Street banks heavily invested in fossil fuels
70% of British adults want banks to reveal where they invest their money
UK’s Big 4 banks given D grade for a lack of climate investment policies and exposure to fossil fuels.
7 November 2016 - There is significant public support for banks to be more transparent about how they use customers' money, a new poll for Christian Aid has revealed.
Seventy per cent of British adults want banks to be legally required to reveal where they invest their individual and corporate customers’ money, while only 14 per cent disagree, according to the ComRes poll.
Half of British adults (50%) also say that the type of companies a bank invests in is important to them, when deciding who to bank with.
The results come as Christian Aid launches a new campaign which will see bank account holders asking Barclays, RBS, Lloyds and HSBC, whether they have a climate plan for their customers’ money.
A new report by the charity shows that the big four banks are still much more heavily invested in fossil fuels than in clean energy, and are not moving quickly enough to change this picture.
Report author Ken Boyce, Senior Private Sector Adviser at Christian Aid, said: “These poll results, show that a large majority of British adults want banks to come clean about where they invest billions of pounds of ordinary people’s money that they control. More than ever this shows that private finance is the public’s business.
“Everyone wants to save for a rainy day but what if our money is causing a storm?
“Today we are launching a new campaign for banks to shift their customers’ billions out of dirty and dangerous fossil-fuelled industries and into cleaner ones that will help keep people and our planet safer.
“The banks should urgently formulate clear plans to keep all their lending and investment in line with internationally agreed climate commitments.
“Our future is quite literally in their plans.”
The ComRes poll showed that Women are more likely to say they care about the type of firms in which a bank invests (53 per cent versus 46 per cent of men), according to the new poll. Women are also more likely than men to say that environmental issues are important for them, when choosing where to bank (44 per cent versus 37 per cent of men).
Christian Aid’s report, Our Future In Their Plans, assesses the banks’ policies in relation to climate change and their plans to bring their investments and lending in line with the internationally agreed target of limiting global warming to 2˚C, which was enshrined in the Paris Agreement. The analysis of the big four High Street banks gives them all a disappointing D grade.
Mr Boyce said: “The big four banks have all signed the Paris Pledge for Action in which they affirmed their commitment to act to support the realization of the goals of the Paris Agreement. We tried to assess what concrete actions and commitments they are taking. We awarded them a D grade because they are not living up to that pledge.
“They are still financing the building of coal-fired power stations which will lock countries in to high carbon infrastructure making it harder for them to meet their climate ambitions. They are still financing oil and gas companies far more than they are renewables. And they are reluctant to set measurable targets for scaling up support for renewables and phasing out support for fossil fuels.
“As the grave problems caused by climate change intensify, the financing of new fossil fuel projects such as these will become increasingly financially risky. Banks that fail to take these risks into account are failing to safeguard customers’ money.”
To meet our globally agreed climate commitments, the UK must shift more quickly towards a low carbon economy. Christian Aid believes the finance for this shift is already available – but only if the companies that manage money on our behalf get behind the change.
From Monday November 7th people can take part in the campaign to email the big four banks by visiting christian-aid.org.uk/bigshift.
ComRes interviewed 2,030 British adults aged 18+ online between the 28th and 30th October 2016. Data were weighted to be nationally representative of all British adults aged 18 and over by age, gender, region and socio-economic grade.
The report, Our Future In Their Plans: Why Private Finance Is The Public’s Business, can be downloaded here.
For interview requests or more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The 24 hour Christian Aid press duty phone is 07850 242950.
Notes to editors:
1. In September Christian Aid announced that 3,500 churches had ditched fossil fuels and signed up for renewable electricity. Many of these have come through the Big Church Switch scheme supported by the Church of England. For more information visit www.bigchurchswitch.org.uk.
2. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
3. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
4. Christian Aid is a member of ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.
5. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire
6. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk