Quite often, we’re confused about where and how we should invest our money. If nothing comes to mind, we tend to leave our money unattended in our savings bank account. The general belief is that there’s no risk of losing the capital amount, nor investing in stocks for fossil fuel and oil companies.
But what is your bank doing with your money? Surely, they’re not letting it sit idle. You wouldn’t imagine that your money is being used to fund mining projects, oil rigs to coal mines but that’s exactly what’s happening. When you check your monthly balance, the money exists, but only digitally. In reality, banks invest or loan out your savings to earn higher interests. And, some of that money trickles its way down to fossil fuel, oil and gas, tanneries – sectors that may not align with your values.
We also often tend to overlook the energy consumption banks require. Right from running multiple bank offices all over India, with 24/7 air-conditioned ATMs and the amount of paper used for the nuanced documentation, banks themselves can be an energy-consuming sector, further adding to overall climate change and environmental degradation.
But, there is a ray of hope. With the increased awareness of environmental concerns, Indian banks have now started taking steps towards a more climate change conscious approach. One such instance is HDFC committing to being carbon neutral by 2032. It aims to transition into a carbon-neutral corporation by offering cheaper loans for electric vehicles, alternate energy and focusing on ESG (environmental, social and governance) projects. The bank aims to reduce its energy, emission and water consumption.
As consumers, we need to realise there’s a link between our consumption pattern and its impact on the environment. According to this report, consumers are responsible for 60-70% of all direct and indirect emissions. We can lead the change we want!
What can we do to play our part in banking ‘green’?
If you know your bank account is funding corporations that are bad for the environment, take action. Keep the bare minimum required in that account and transfer the rest to a ‘greener bank.’ Various banks such as Kotak Mahindra have pledged to be greener by reducing their paperwork and opting for mobile banking or e-statements. IndusInd bank has launched the Green Office Project under which they’ve installed solar-powered ATMs in different cities targeting energy saving as well as reducing CO2 emissions. Yes Bank aims to include Alternate Energy and CleanTech in its portfolio.
Fridays for Future and their resources on green banking and what you can do.
Signing petitions and raising your voice can go a long way in making a difference. In the case of SBI, there are existing petitions and websites asking them to stop funding projects that harm the planet. A major success story has been the lack of private funding for Adani’s future projects because of the petitions and activists.