Ethical Banking

October 18, 2020

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a sobering report on the devastating impacts our world will face with 1.5° Celsius of warming — let alone 2°C — while setting out the emissions trajectory the nations of the world need to take if we are to have any shot at keeping to that 1.5°C limit.

Is it just the governments, corporations and banks that are responsible for the increased investments driving climate change or is it the case, that each of us is complicit in this system without realising?


Many banks use our savings to invest in low-risk activities, so they can make money and find ways to pay us interest. These activities often include oil drilling, fracking, arms, and military investment. It is not something they disclose when you open your account, but it is something you’re potentially funding even if you don’t personally approve of it.


Ethical Banking – Yes, Ethical banks do exist.

Triodos remains squarely at the forefront of the banking industry when it comes to ethics.

WHY ethical banking?

Choosing an ethical bank

What to look for when choosing an ethical bank account?

  1. Is it an ethical investor? Make sure that your chosen bank is clear about how it will invest your money. Keep an eye out for the bank’s ethical investment policies.
  2. Does it pay its fair share of tax? Tax avoidance is a big issue in this sector with many banks operating subsidiaries out of known tax havens such as Switzerland and Luxembourg.


  1. Nationwide and Cumberland Building Societies and the Co-operative Bank (including its Smile brand) accounts are all also recommended.
  2. Unlike Triodos which has a small monthly charge, these banks all offer free banking services.
  3. The Co-operative Bank maintains a crystal-clear ethical stance across several issues.


What to avoid when choosing an ethical bank?

Is it financing climate change? All of the big banks have extensive investments in fossil fuels, including the most damaging ones like tar sands and ultra-deep-sea drilling. Also, be aware of investments in the fracking industry.


Barclays is the biggest banker of fossil fuels in Europe, followed by HSBC. Both banks have also been linked to multiple human rights cases of abuse. We’d recommend avoiding their brands:
●   Barclays
●   M&S Money (50% Barclays)
●   HSBC
●   First Direct (HSBC)

CitigroupLloyds Banking Group (LloydsHalifaxBank of Scotland), NatWest Group (NatWestRBSCoutts) and Santander (Santander, Carter Allen) all also face multiple criticisms, not least for their ongoing financing of fossil fuels.

Extinction Rebellion Chelmsford staged an action at Barclays bank to protest against its continued investment in Tar Sands, which is one of the most dangerous and polluting fossil fuels in November 2019.

One of the ways in which we can fight against the climate crisis is to stop using institutions like Barclays and HSBC which are making the situation worse with the ways they invest our money.

(Please note, this piece is focused on ethical banking. XR Chelmsford is not a banking expert or advisor, and is not affiliated with any banks or services in this post.)


Browse By CatEgory:
Browse By TAG: