New Divestment Campaign Hits Big Five Banks


Charlotte Webster writes on Move Your Money’s ‘Divest!’ campaign, which calls for banks to stop funding fossil fuels and climate change.

Fossil fuel investment has never been environmentally acceptable. It is now no longer socially acceptable. It is fast becoming economically unacceptable too.

The divestment movement is spreading across the globe with investment groups like the Rockefeller Brothers recently joining religious groups, foundations, universities, councils and cities all committing to move billions of pounds out of fossil fuels. This month the University of Glasgow pledged to divest £18 million, joining the British Medical Association, Oxford City Council and the UK’s Quakers in moving away from fossil fuels.

In October this year, Move Your Money launched a new campaign calling for banks to stop funding fossil fuels and climate change. ‘Divest!’ comes amid growing public concern about climate change and fossil fuel investments.

People’s everyday savings and investments are ultimately being used by banks to fund climate change, something we’ve found the public simply don’t want. ‘Divest!’ is everyone’s opportunity to tell their bank to clean up its act, or they will walk.

Currently, Britain’s biggest banks have issued over £66 billion in corporate loans, equities and bonds into coal, tar sands, fracking, oil and gas extraction. However, the recent Great British Money Survey found that 39% of Brits are concerned about their savings and investments being used to fund fossil fuels, and that more than 1 in 3 (36%) want their bank to stop investing in the sector.

The ‘Divest!’ campaign, supported by a new Move Your Money report on fossil fuels and banking, turns dissatisfaction into action by enabling people to talk directly to their bank about fossil fuel investment. An online letter to Britain’s Big Five banks – HSBC; Barclays; RBS; Lloyds and Santander – outlines that they each have three months, until the end of January 2015, to commit to ending their support for fossil fuels otherwise customers will leave them.

To join the campaign, read the ‘Divest!’ report and put your bank on notice to divest, go to www.moveyourmoney.org.uk.


Written by Charlotte Webster, Campaign Manager, Move Your Money



Britain’s Big Five Banks and their links to fossil fuels

Assets in oil, gas and coal   extraction, in £ million

Corporate loans


Corporate bonds


HSBC   Holdings









Royal   Bank of Scotland





Lloyds   Banking Group





Santander   Group*




Total   across the Big Five


*excluding   corporate bonds due to lack of available data

From Figure 15 of ‘The Price of Doing Too Little Too Late: The impact of the carbon bubble on the EU financial system’, a report prepared for the Greens/EFA Group – European Parliament February 2014.

The loans are to oil, gas and coal mining companies worldwide that were still (partially) outstanding as of 31 December 2012. They are calculated depending on the total years to maturity.

For shares and bonds, ‘available data on the composition of trading portfolios are insufficient to track exposures to specific companies. Instead, the exposure to high-carbon companies in leading stock and bond indices is used.’ Shares: BlackRock’s iShares MSCI World UCITS as of December 2012 (9.4%). Bonds: PIMCO Global Advantage Bond Index (15.3%).

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