Investment - Articles - Climate poll says savers want out of fossil fuel investments

The majority of adults in the UK do not want their pensions and bank deposits used to fund fossil fuel projects, a groundbreaking new climate change survey shows. Three out of five people were not even aware that the financial institutions they are customers of could be investing in projects such as coal mines, oil wells and gas fields (61%) – and, when told, a similar percentage would prefer investments that took climate change impacts into account (62%)

 The findings come from a new poll, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by environmental lawyers ClientEarth, which gauged national opinions on how financial institutions and the government are facing up to the challenges posed by climate change.

 Financial institutions, particularly pension funds, have been in the spotlight this year. A parliamentary Select Committee recently quizzed the UK’s largest funds on their exposure to and management of climate risk – and this month ClientEarth reminded pension professionals of their legal duties to address it.

 ClientEarth climate lawyer Danielle Lawson said: “The signal to the financial world could not be clearer: it must raise its game. A large number of consumers want the financial institutions managing their personal finances – be it everyday bank accounts or workplace pensions – to avoid funding fossil fuel companies that contribute to climate chaos.”

 Historically, climate risk has been sidelined as an ‘ethical’ consideration, despite exposing investments across the UK’s financial system to significant potential loss. But findings from ClientEarth’s Climate Snapshot show that pension scheme members, far from being ambivalent, are engaged and interested in where their money is being invested.

 Key findings include:
 Fifty percent would consider moving their bank or pension investments if they realised their money was being used to make fossil fuel investments;

 Almost two-thirds said they believe that investing in fossil fuel companies is a risky strategy (65%) and would prefer an institution that actively considered climate impacts (62%);

 The preference for climate-aware investment is even more marked among 18-34 year olds (66%), who have the longest investment future ahead of them;

 More than eight in ten believe that fossil fuel companies who knew about climate change early on and continue to lobby against taking action should be responsible in some way for the costs of major weather events (83%);

 53% do not trust fossil fuel companies to change their business models;

 More than two thirds are in favour of breaking up the Big Six’s market share to allow smaller, cleaner, and locally owned energy systems to develop (68%); and,

 Almost three quarters of consumers would be interested in joining a community energy scheme if the government made it easier (71%), and individuals are keen to install their own solar panels (62%) and home energy storage (60%).

 Lawson added: “Most people questioned were not aware of the link between their pension and continued investment in fossil fuel and what this could mean for their future. Financial institutions, including pension funds, should be more transparent and engage with individuals so that they can make informed choices about how their money is used – as the DWP recommended pension schemes do earlier this year.

 “This is particularly important for younger people with defined contribution and contract-based pension schemes who will not draw their pensions for several decades and bear the financial risk of their scheme’s continued support for fossil fuels in the meantime.

 “The fact that less than a fifth of the public trust fossil fuel companies to change their business models and transition to supplying low-carbon energy, shows that there is likely to be a demand for pension and retail investment options which exclude fossil fuels.”
 A copy of ClientEarth’s Climate Snapshot opinion poll report can be found here.

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