Fossil fuels are quickly becoming a thing of the past – so naturally, divesting your money from places that support this harmful industry is a great step you can take to ensure you're supporting a greener future!
If you ask anyone on the street the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint you might get answers like use public transportation, decrease household energy consumption, or buy locally grown produce. It seems a bit outside of the box to consider your finances as a means of reducing your carbon footprint, but one that is equally important.
I came to Australia as a postgrad to study coral reefs and as with moving to any new country, that required getting financially set up. Without much thought, I set up my account with one of the big four Australian banks that was right at uni. One day, I passed by a 'fossil free uni' campaign and realized that my hard-earned money was potentially working around the clock toward something I didn't agree with. With that, I decided to end my financial relationship with fossil fuels and think more critically about greener options to manage my money.
For me, I switched to Bank Australia, a customer-owned business with social and environmental priorities on banking. It was the first bank in the world to commit to all seven climate commitments under the We Mean Business Commit to Action climate leadership platform. These values are manifested in their financing model by supporting environmental protection and green projects such as renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. Additionally, Bank Australia offsets loss of biodiversity of all construction projects by protecting land equal to the building lot through their Conservation Reserve program and offsets car emissions from all vehicles purchased for the life of the car loan. It was easy to switch and equally convenient with a branch right at uni and the rediATM network. It was the right choice for me. I only wish I had done it sooner!
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Choosing the right bank:
The innovative organisation, Market Forces, campaigns for banks, superannuation funds, and governments to protect rather than damage our environment. They have a comprehensive and readable list comparing 120 Australian banks which outlines the financial institutions that fund fossil fuels and those that don',t so you can easily find out where your bank stands on the climate crisis.
Disappointingly, the major four Australian banks – ANZ, NAB, Commonwealth, and Westpac – heavily invest in fossil fuels, as well as HSBC, citi, Maquarie Bank, ING, and AMP. You can check out Market Forces' table to find out how much money these banks are each funding.
It's easy to make the switch and start supporting a greener future.
Don't know how to change? Check out this guide from Market Forces and make your money count.
Not sure if your super fund is bankrolling fossil fuels? Read our guide here.
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Catherin Kim is a postgraduate student at the University of Queensland studying the coral reefs of Timor-Leste. She enjoys scuba diving, knitting, and cooking for her family and friends. Keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram.