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Published on 5 March 2020

Christian Aid campaigner, Luke Harman, highlights progress made at UK high street banks, following your campaigning between 2017 and 2019.

Your campaigning to four of the UK’s biggest high street banks, has helped drive them to make commitments that will help stop this climate crisis. Between them, the four banks have increased funding for renewable energy and restricted their funding for coal – some banks much more than others.

Hard-won pledges

This year we’ve already seen two significant announcements highlighting the progress that Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) have made.

In January, Lloyds pledged to halve the carbon emissions it finances through personal and business loans by 2030. Lloyds Chief Executive, Antonio Horta-Osorio, said: 'The next decade will be crucial for protecting the planet and financial services has a critical role to play.’

We agree! The Big Shift campaign was premised on the belief that private banks hold the key to a brighter future based on renewable energy, or will lock us into more dirty energy and further climate breakdown if they fail to stop financing fossil fuels. 

Hot on the heels of the Lloyds announcement, in February, RBS announced that it will halve the climate impact of its loans by 2030.

It will also stop lending to any company that makes more than 15% of its money from coal (formerly RBS’s threshold was 40%). Oil, coal and gas investments, currently worth around £6bn to the bank, will be phased out by 2030.  

What you’ve achieved

Your actions, 55,000 emails, 7,000 letters and hundreds of visits to bank branches across the UK, played a part in shifting both Lloyds and RBS to these new positions. 

Throughout the Big Shift campaign, Christian Aid has called on the banks to publish plans for phasing out their finance of fossil fuels with clear, timebound milestones. These recent plans announced by RBS and Lloyds are exactly what we asked for. 

Still to do

This does not mean that our work is done. For example, Lloyds’ announcement was thin on the details about how they’ll fulfil their pledge. Meanwhile the UK’s two largest banks – Barclays and HSBC – are still pouring billions of pounds into fossil fuels overseas, including new fossil fuel projects. These banks appear to have no such plans to align their lending with the Paris Agreement. 

We will continue to monitor the actions of UK banks and work with other NGOs to call out the fossil fuel laggards like HSBC and Barclays (subject of a recent Greenpeace campaign) whenever we can. 

Meanwhile we’re calling for UK Government action to halt the funding of fossil fuels alongside other ambitious and necessary measures to help stop this climate crisis.

Call on the UK Government to help deliver a New Deal for Climate Justice by signing our petition