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Adults and a child stand on a bridge in Metro Manilla with a flooded river flowing below The Big Shift

How UK banks are funding climate change

To tackle climate change, we need an unprecedented shift in the way we source and finance energy. We need banks to invest our money in a cleaner future.


In 2017, extreme weather devastated communities across the world. In just one horrific example, floods and landslides across South Asia killed more than a thousand people and displaced millions from their homes.

This is a sombre reminder of how climate change is hitting the most vulnerable communities.

It is more important than ever to fulfil climate change ambitions to limit the increase of global temperature to 1.5 degrees. To achieve this, we must rapidly step up investments in renewable energy and phase out investments in fossil fuels.

For every £1 invested in renewables, the world is still investing approximately £3.24 in fossil fuels
Graphic of a small piggy bank which says 'investment in renewable energy' next to a large piggy bank which says 'investment in fossil fuels'

Investment in renewables has risen substantially in recent years, and the global transition to a low-carbon economy is well under way. However, the depth and pace of this transition is not yet enough. The world is still too reliant on fossil fuels, and we’re investing too much in them.

of global investment in energy extraction and infrastructure went towards fossils fuels in 2015, compared to 17% for renewables.
International Energy Agency, 2016
Funding ‘dirty’ deeds
This case study is an example of how major high street banks are still using our money to finance projects and companies whose activities are fuelling climate change.

An aerial view of Cerrejon Mine in Colombia

Since 2011, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and RBS have contributed to lending syndicates which made an estimated $109 billion in financing available to Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Glencore. Each of these companies owns a third of the Cerrejón mine in Colombia.

Cerrejón produced more than 33 million tonnes of coal in 2015, and plans to increase this to 40 million tonnes over the next few years.

With the mine expected to operate until 2034, total emissions across the rest of the mine’s lifespan could be as high as 1.3 billion tonnes.

We want to see UK banks funding a clean alternative to dirty projects like the Cerrejon mine in Colombia. The shift to renewables isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good for business too.

Banks have much to gain as markets for renewables continue to develop, as well as from reducing the risks associated with lending for fossil fuels. Given the urgency and scale of the climate challenge, they must pick up the pace and seize these opportunities before it’s too late.

How UK banks are funding climate change

Our report features facts, figures and case stories on projects funded by high street banks that are fuelling climate change.