There is no centralized list of retail banks that refuse to do business with the fossil fuel industry. Surprised? We certainly were. That’s why we decided to fill the gap with our new Fossil Free Banking Alliance. You know how the saying goes: sometimes, the best inventions are the simplest.
When we launched Bank.Green in April of last year, we faced a problem: how do we choose banks to recommend? Of course, there are lots of banks working in a range of countries that tout their ethical or sustainable credentials, but being an “environmentally-friendly” bank can mean many things. Mitigating climate change is one of the most urgent tasks facing humanity, so we knew Bank.Green would focus on fossil fuels: calling out retail banks that do finance it, then recommending those that don’t. But how do you find banks that won’t finance fossil fuels?
You can trawl banks’ websites for information on fossil fuels financing policies (warning: this task may cause premature ageing) but there is no fossil-free banking catalogue.
Until now, that is. Our Fossil Free Banking Alliance represents a growing group of banks from around the world that do not - and will not - lend or underwrite to fossil fuel companies or projects. At the time of writing, this alliance comprised eight retail banks: Ando, Beneficial State, Clean Energy Credit Union, Climate First, Green Got, Helios, Self-Help Credit Union, and Virginia Community Capital.
On signing up his bank to the alliance, Ando’s CEO J.P. McNeill told us that “Fossil Free Certification is an exciting and vitally necessary evolution within the banking sector.”
“For too long, traditional banks funneled trillions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry without sharing that information with their customers,” says McNeill. “In contrast, Ando was founded on the principles of enabling personal divestment from fossil fuel investments, as we never have nor will invest a penny of customer deposits in fossil fuels [...] We encourage others in the industry to do the right thing and join us in being proudly Fossil Free Certified.”
These banks voluntarily embarked on our Fossil Free Certified process, submitting a signed declaration and sharing evidence with us. We review these submissions and if we’re satisfied, the bank joins the Fossil Free Banking Alliance. This process is free of charge, so no bank can buy certification from us.
We ask all Fossil Free Certified banks to add the badge to their public-facing resources, so that both existing and potential customers know their money is not being used to finance the fossil fuel industry. Every member of the Fossil Free Banking Alliance is listed at bank.green/certification, too.
As with other corporate sustainability initiatives like the B Impact Assessment or 1% for the Planet, being Fossil Free Certified helps every member of the alliance to clearly promote their values. But while being labelled a B Corp by B Impact Assessment can refer to a whole range of considerations, our certification keeps things very, very simple: no fossil fuel financing, ever.
When it comes to the world of sustainable banking, there is a collection of bold candidates out there that come to mind first. Triodos in Europe and Ando in the United States, for example. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other banks that don’t finance fossil fuels, but haven’t made this a core part of their identity. Being Fossil Fuel Certified will help these banks to become just as visible, not least of all to the growing number of data-driven ethical consumer guides out there.
As well as helping climate-conscious individuals to discover the best bank for them, the Fossil Free Banking Alliance also supports banks in attracting like-minded employees, which nurtures and strengthens the sustainable banking sector.
Finally, we believe that the simple existence of a Fossil Free Banking Alliance will alert more people to the problem: there are millions of bank account holders all over the world who don’t know their money is supporting a fossil-fuelled future. This alliance is part of our vision to reach all of them.
Visit bank.green/certification to find out how your bank can join the Fossil Free Banking Alliance and become Fossil Free Certified.
Banks live and die on their reputations. Mass movements of money to fossil-free competitors puts those reputations at grave risk. By moving your money to a sustainable financial institution, you will:
Send a message to your bank that it must defund fossil fuels
Join a fast-growing movement of consumers standing up for their future
Take a critical climate action with profound effects