The ‘Divest!’ campaign is supported by a new report on fossil fuels and banking by campaign group Move Your Money and will take the form of an online letter to Britain’s ‘Big Five’ banks – HSBC, Barclays, RBS, Lloyds and Santander – stating that each has until the end of January 2015 to commit to dissociating from fossil fuels or customers will leave them.

Move Your Money campaign director Charlotte Webster said: “Fossil fuel investment has never been environmentally acceptable. It is now no longer socially acceptable. It is fast becoming economically unacceptable too.

“As a result, 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 £18m, joining the British Medical Association, Oxford City Council and the UK’s Quakers in moving away from fossil fuels.

Funding fossil fuels

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

The survey also found that awareness of the term ‘Carbon Bubble’ – used to describe the risk of fossil fuel investments – has increased significantly since this time last year.

Webster added: “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.”

A report from positive investor service Ethex late last week suggests that positive investments are rapidly outpacing traditional markets, having grown by one-third over the last two years to £3.25bn.

Lois Vallely

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