Keynsham Voice September column: How can we make money work for a sustainable future?

How can we make money work for a sustainable future? Some might answer “we can’t.” Time and again we’ve seen big business putting profit over people and growth over being green.

Many of these businesses are accountable to shareholders, whose role is pivotal in changing corporate behaviour. Unfortunately, according to one recent report, only one in every five of the UK’s super-rich have even a tiny fraction of their assets held in sustainable investments. Incredibly, we lag behind Chinese and Brazilian millionaires, many of whom are investing their money ethically.

Ordinary people might wonder how an article about shareholdings and the super-rich can have anything to do with them. But every one of us who has a pension has investments in the stock market, and as such, we have real influence.

There’s an organisation called ShareAction that helps ordinary people like you and me discover what our savings are invested in – agriculture or arms, renewables or fossil fuels. They support us to get our voice heard by our pension schemes, to help ensure that the impact of our investments in the real world are for the good of people and planet.

ShareAction works on a number of sustainable investment campaigns, and it’s worth checking out their website. They support fossil fuel businesses to transition to a low carbon model. They campaign on the Living Wage, shine a spotlight on global supply chains, and rank Europe’s biggest banks to ensure they invest in the low carbon economy.

Bristol is the UK home of Triodos Bank, an ethical bank that only lends to organisations that make a social, environmental or cultural difference. Triodos offers ethical ISAS, savings and now also an ethical personal current account.

Another way for small investors to help change the world for the better is to invest in community energy. There are opportunities to do this up and down the country.

So, we’re all able to help make money work for a sustainable future, whether we’re a millionaire or a regular Jo Bloggs. We can make sure our pensions and other investments are invested in ethical funds and can demand change where they aren’t. And we can move our current accounts to a more ethical bank, one that puts people and planet first


Published in Keynsham Voice, September 2018,

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