For the September Our Planet Our Future event, local residents met at the Plough and Harrow to learn more about the impact of financial decisions on the environment. This first summary outlines the discussions of the first part of the evening and gives ideas for action and engagement for individuals to take. The second summary will cover how to change the system!
Sarah MacLaren who leads Money Movers Workshops, was our Guest Speaker for Part One. Jack Easton, chair of Sustainable St Albans and a non-executive Director of Positive Money, discussed the actions being taken by think tanks to change the money system to positively impact climate change in Part Two.
The Link between Climate and Money
Sarah discussed the link between climate and money, how you can take meaningful action with the card in your pocket, the power of peer support and the things that you can do NOW!
Huge environmental problems exist in the world particularly Global warming from fossil fuels and Poor governance. Since the Paris climate agreement of 2016, more than £4.6 trillion has been invested by mainstream banks in the expansion of fossil fuels (Source: Earth.org ActionAid 15 Biggest Environmental problems of 2023). Cutting funding off at the source is one of the key ways citizens and consumers can affect this. The following day, the Guardian published an article claiming that European banks have invested in excess of 1 trillion euros since the Paris climate agreement.
The choices we make with our money can be 21 times as effective (Source: Make my Money Matter, Money Movers) as actions on Giving up flying, Going vegetarian and Changing your energy supplier. Divestment, engagement, group action and direct investment are all powerful ways to change the financial system and what it backs. ‘Money is the oxygen on which the fire of global warming burns’ Bill McKibben. Or as said by Christina Figueres, Former Executive Secretary of UNFCCC – Put your money where you want the world to go.
What Actions Can You take?
When making financial decisions many of us do not know the impact on the environment when making financial decisions or what happens to the money we invest. We often find it hard to find this out and to align your money with your values. We discussed how to start on this journey. Start with a conversation about climate and money, examine yours and your family’s financial relationships in relation to your values, make a commitment to make one small change or join a workshop to enlist the support of fellow change-makers.
Money Movers, Make My Money Matter, ShareAction and Good with Money are all encouraging citizens to engage with their financial providers. Money Movers is a movement of women supporting each other to take climate action with their personal finances – however much they have. They lead supported workshops and provide a safe, jargon and judgement-free place to examine and change our financial relationships. (Contact Sarah for details of upcoming workshops in the St Albans District). Sarah plans to run sessions for men and women as well as women only ones and encouraged interested parties to email her.
During the evening there were several breakout discussions, here is a list of actions discussed that attendees had either done or were planning to do:
- Open savings account locally eg ttps://www.stalbanscommunitybank.co.uk/
- Review where their pension funds / investments are held (check out https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/) and move them
- Input to votes at company AGMS. One attendee noted that their pension provider has an app (Tumelo) for the pension and seeks to get the views of all those in the pension scheme when companies have votes, providing a very easy way for members of that scheme to give their views. Other members of the audience were planning to find out if their pension provider offered similar opportunities.
- If you are seeking to invest consider investing directly in micro green investments, local community schemes, or in larger green opportunities eg https://greenangelsyndicate.com/
- becoming a small shareholder in a large corporation, engaging in these relationships to support a different financial system.
- Join one of Sarah’s courses – contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Greening your money – further resources
- Money Movers
- Ethical Consumer – magazine and website
- Less is more – Jason Hickel
- Money, a user’s guide – Laura Whateley
- Bankers to the Poor – Muhammad Yunus
- Manifesto for a moral revolution – Jacqueline Novogratz
- The psychology of Money – Morgan Housel
- Invisible Women – Caroline Criado Perez
- Why Women are Poorer than Men – Annabelle Williams
Check back for Greening Your Money Part 2 outlining the work to change the money system!
The next Our Planet Our Future event
We are delighted to be launching our environmental book club on 14th November. Our first book is ‘Letters to the earth, writing to a Planet in Crisis’. The book is a collection of short letters grouped into themes (e.g. loss, hope, action), introduced by Emma Thompson.
You can book your free place at our website. We will discuss the book in groups and will also select the book for the next book club meeting in February and discuss the practicalities for our book club. We look forward to seeing you on 14th November.