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Banks not living up to climate pledge, says Christian Aid

11 November 2016


CUSTOMERS want their banks to be more transparent about where they invest their money, a new survey commissioned by Christian Aid suggests.

The survey, conducted by ComRes, found that more than two-thirds of adults wanted banks to be legally required to reveal where they invested their individual and corporate customers’ money.

Half also said that knowing where a bank invested was an important factor in deciding whom to bank with.

The poll was released to coincide with Christian Aid’s campaign The Big Shift, to encourage bank customers to ask the big four banks — Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, and RBS — whether they were shifting their investments from fossil-fuelled industries to cleaner energy.

The poll of 2030 British adults aged 18-plus found that women were more likely to care about the type of company a bank invests in, and also more likely than men to say that environmental issues were important for them when choosing where to bank.

A Christian Aid report, Our Future in Their Plans, examines whether banks and asset-management companies are shifting investments as a response to climate change, and in particular in the wake of the Paris Agreement that came into force last week, which commits countries to keeping the global temperature rise this century below 2°C (News, 14 December 2015).

The report found that none of the main banks had made significant progress in shifting to investing in sustainable energy. It urged them to stop financing coal-power plants and the extraction of oil from tar sands, as well as set dates for phasing out the financing of coal mining, and oil and gas extraction.

The report’s author, Ken 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 realisation 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.”

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