May 17th – Money talks

To create change usually requires some sort of financial pressure or incentive. The phrase “put your money where your mouth is” is very apt. In the past mass boycotts of products have been used with success. Money talks.

The biggest impact banks make comes from the companies and projects they chose to provide loans, insurance and capital for. As a result banks are in a strong position to influence change; if they invest in fossil fuels, then fossil fuels will thrive. If they invest in green technology, then green technology will thrive. But banks don’t magic their money out of thin air; we put it there.

Do you know how green your bank is? A quick look at the website https://bank.green will show you how your bank scores. As a quick summary Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander do badly, while Nationwide and Cooperative do well. Triodos scores top of the ethical banking charts; this is only available online. The Bank Green website will also help guide you on how to move your money.

Government regulation designed to reduce monopoly in the banking sector has meant switching accounts should be quick and easy, taking just seven days. When you open a new bank account it will usually ask you if you want to switch. By providing the detail of your old account the switching service will move your money, direct debits and standing orders across and close your previous account. It will also transfer payments into your account for three years.

For a thorough read about banking and how you can help, with an overview of all the banks visit https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/money-finance.

There is also a local event you might like to attend at Plymouth University from 7-8.30pm on Tuesday 23rd May. Zak Gottlieb, the director of Bank.Green will be giving a presentation on the financing of energy, and, in particular, the contentious issue of finance for current and future fossil fuel projects, followed by a panel discussion and questions from the audience. Attendance is also possible via Zoom. The event is organised by Climate Action Plymouth. Tickets are free, but space is limited – visit https://actionnetwork.org/events/event-on-ethical-banking for more details and to book.

When you change your bank, do write and let them know why you are changing. This is very important. Any bank’s primary interest is in making money, so if enough people act, they will start to take note. And do spread the word; each of us has a reach of influence, and each of the people we influence has a reach too.

Changing your bank will require a few hours of your time, but beyond that there is no hardship. There are no ongoing expenses, no lifestyle changes. This makes it one of the easiest moves you can make to improve the planet, but is also one of the most effective. Individually our own small finances won’t talk, but collectively they will. 

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