• Two thirds (63%) of Brits calling for urgent move away from fossil fuel investments.
  • Six in 10 (61%) acknowledge fossil fuels are damaging the planet.
  • Half (52%) of Brits think fossil fuel investments are foolish given the climate emergency.
  • 50% of Brits don’t want their money to support the fossil fuel industry.
  • Two thirds (65%) have no idea if their money or savings are supporting fossil fuel production.
  • Brits could be unknowingly investing >£16billion in fossil fuels through their ISAs.

Bristol, UK – Europe’s leading ethical and sustainable bank, Triodos Bank, is today launching a new UK campaign for ISA season, called ‘Don’t be a fossil fool’, encouraging and enabling people to shift their money away from fossil fuels.

Triodos’ new survey of over 2,000 consumers reveals how nearly two thirds (63%) of Brits now agree that our money needs to be moved away from fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) and invested in clean energy instead, in response to the climate emergency.

A similar majority (61%) acknowledges that fossil fuels are undoubtedly damaging the planet, and four in 10 (41%) believe having any money invested in the fossil fuel industry is morally wrong.

Triodos’ call for people to switch their accounts and move their money away from fossil fuels comes with a stark warning against joining the growing number of ISA ‘fossil fools’. Thousands of Brits are unknowingly investing their money into ISAs that support the fossil fuel industry (as much as £16 billion could be supporting fossil fuels through British stocks and shares ISAs)*.

Part of the problem is a chronic lack of transparency. The research reveals that:

  • Two thirds of Brits (65%) admit to having no idea if their money or savings currently go towards supporting the climate-damaging fuels, such as oil, gas or coal.
  • Seven in 10 (70%) Brits say that banks and savings providers need to be more transparent about where their money is invested.

CEO of Triodos Bank UK, Bevis Watts, comments: “The UK’s banks should be using the money saved or invested with them to protect the long-term interests of their customers in creating a sustainable future. They’re making fossil fools out of customers, by using their savings to fund fossil fuel projects that are harming everyone’s future, and banks should be pressuring energy companies to change faster. This is all in spite of a clear climate emergency and a growing divestment movement across the world calling for action.

“There is a strong demand for much greater transparency over where banks invest their money, enabling customers to make informed choices. As you can see from the findings, the majority of people don’t want any of their money to support fossil fuels; so let’s give them the opportunity to act on this, and give them options for ISA savings and investments that combat the climate crisis, while also helping them put money aside for the future.”

In line with the call for change, half of Brits (50%) want to take action with their money, saying they do not want their own money to support the fossil fuel industry in any way, and 37% would switch to a bank that guarantees it will not support the industry.

As the climate emergency continues to take centre stage in global politics, the time for moving your money is now. ISA season is upon us, providing the perfect opportunity for savers to reassess the impact of their savings and investments.

Despite this, a third (30%) don’t realise that moving your money out of fossil-fuel-supporting banks is one of the most effective ways to take action on climate change.

The call for divestment (putting pressure on companies that support the extraction of fossil fuels to invest in renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels) is gaining momentum. Half (48%) are seeing the new divestment movement as a positive step, as more and more pension funds and other organisations move their money away from oil, gas and coal.

Government action on divestment may also be needed:

  • Over half (51%) believe governments and local authorities should lead by example and move their respective pension funds away from fossil fuels as well.
  • The majority of Brits (60%) say the government could do much more to provide a framework and incentives to help people invest their money to combat rather than cause climate change.
  • Over half (52%) think it is foolish to be encouraging people to invest in such fuels in the face of the ongoing climate emergency.

Overall, the movement for individual action in response to the climate emergency is also strong, with many Brits saying they are prepared to make a number of changes to their lives to make a positive difference on climate change. In particular, over a quarter (26%) are prepared to switch to a green, ethical bank.

However, the research also shows a misunderstanding of the biggest contributors to climate change amongst Brits. Single use plastic scored highest (64%) despite not having the biggest impact on climate change. Conversely, avoiding fossil fuels (which is the most damaging industry to our climate) scored much lower (34%).

Personal changes people would make to take action on climate change.

  1. Try to avoid single use plastic. (64%)
  2. Avoid “fast fashion”. (42%)
  3. Switch your energy supplier to a renewable energy supplier. (39%)
  4. Avoid investing in fossil fuels. (34%)
  5. Choose eco-friendly transport – e.g. trains, buses and bikes. (34%)
  6. Eat less meat. (33%)
  7. Bank with a green and ethical bank. (26%)
  8. Reduce number of flights. (23%)
  9. Stop flying all together. (13%)
  10. Switch to a vegan diet. (7%)

Commenting on the new call to stop fossil foolishness, Dr Alexandra Jellicoe, public and environmental health scientist, said: “The fossil fuels industry is by far the most damaging to our global climate. Reducing our dependence on these polluting fuels is arguably the single most urgent challenge we face if we are to avoid a really unmanageable climate crisis in the next few decades. We all need to make sure our money isn’t supporting an industry that is harming our planet. Switching your bank or savings provider is an effective way to make a difference and reduce the flow of money towards oil, gas and coal projects.”

Triodos Bank offers a range of ethical ISAs, including stocks and shares ISA, variable and fixed rate cash ISAs, Innovative Finance ISAs and a junior cash ISA. Triodos only lends to organisations that are positively affecting the environment and society. This includes renewable energy, social housing, organic food and farming, Fairtrade organisations, and a variety of charities and social enterprises.

In contrast, according to NGO BankTrack, the top UK banks have poured approximately £150 billion into financing fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2016, including £45bn for the expansion of fossil fuels, of which £13bn was invested in fracking.**

Triodos ISA customer, Dr Kate Thomas, from North Wales, commented: “Our governments and global banks aren’t doing enough to tackle the climate crisis. I feel strongly that we have to take individual responsibility whenever we can. I don’t want my money being invested in fossil fuels and unethical companies. As soon as I heard about Triodos Bank, I switched my ISA. Not long after that, I set up a Junior Cash ISA for my son.”

Important information:

As with all ISAs, the tax benefits of an ISA depend on your circumstances, and tax rules may change. For Stocks & Shares ISAs, your capital is at risk and the value of your investment may go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Currency fluctuations may also affect the value of your Triodos Stocks & Shares ISA.

To find out more about how you can make a positive impact on the world by switching your savings to an ethical ISA, please visittriodos.co.uk/ethical-isas.

-Ends-

A nationally representative sample of 2,001 UK adults (aged 18+) were surveyed by Opinium Research on behalf of Triodos Bank between 18-20 February 2020.  

*The current MSCI ACWI sector (stock investments) weight for energy is 4.81%. Due to a lack of transparency from the vast majority of ISA providers, calculating the exact amount of UK ISA investment in fossil fuel companies is impossible. However, we estimate that most balanced portfolios (for the average ISA) reflect the global market closely, meaning that on average, most stocks and shares ISAs will have roughly 4.8% of their funds invested in fossil fuel companies. According to the ONS, at the end of 2017/18, the market value of Adult ISA holdings in the UK stood at £608 billion. 55% of the £608bn are stocks and shares ISAs (£334.4bn). 4.81% of £334.4bn is £16bn (16.08bn).

**Data taken from BankTrack report ‘Banking on Climate Change’ referring to leading UK banks (Barclays, HSBC, RBS, Standard Chartered, Santander) amount of financing for fossil fuels between 2016-18 converted to GBP, using the US:GBP exchange rate as of 12.09.19 (0.813496). https://www.banktrack.org/article/banking_on_climate_change_fossil_fuel_finance_report_card_2019   

Notes to Editors

Case studies, comment, photos and interviews on switching your bank during ISA season available on request.

For more information on ‘Know where your money goes’ and banking transparency: knowwhereyourmoneygoes.co.uk

Bevis Watts, Triodos Bank UK CEO, on ethical banking: youtube.com

For further information please contact:

Ellie James

  • T: 0117 311 0241
  • ellie.james@triodos.co.uk

Ed Grattan

  • T: 07817 413792
  • ed.grattan@triodos.co.uk

About Triodos Bank

Founded in 1980, Triodos Bank has become a frontrunner in sustainable banking globally. As an independent bank that promotes responsible and transparent banking, it does not see any conflict between a focus on people and the planet and a good financial return. Instead it believes that they reinforce each other in the long-term.

Triodos Bank has banking activities in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Spain, Germany and France as well as Investment Management activities based in the Netherlands but active globally. Triodos Bank co-founded the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a network of 54 sustainable banks. Together these banks want to grow sustainable banking and its impact on the real economy substantially.

Triodos Bank UK Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Triodos Bank NV. Registered Office: Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AS. Registered in England and Wales Company No. 11379025. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 817008. VAT reg no 793493383.