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Moving our finances out of fossil fuels

By EFN, 13th February 2024

Our money can help or hinder action to address climate change.

Following a decision by staff and trustees, in late 2023, we closed our business bank account with HSBC after reporting showed that HSBC is still heavily financing fossil fuels.

As a charity working in the environmental sector, we are committed to acting on all fronts to combat climate change. We do not want our funds to finance fossil fuels.

We are not alone in divesting from fossil fuels. Many individuals and organisations are taking steps to ensure their money is not adding to the climate emergency, and there are plenty of initiatives to support them.

NCVO’s campaign Fueling positive change is encouraging charities to take their money out of fossil fuels and to sign up to a fossil free future. Charities are working across causes and sectors to make the world a better place: climate change threatens this work, whatever its focus. The campaign helps charities learn more about why other charities are divesting from fossil fuels and how to divest from fossil fuels. If you divest from fossil fuels, you can join us and many others in committing to a fossil-free future.

Make My Money Matter campaigns to encourage individuals, organisations and the financial sector to move their money (pensions, everyday banking, investments, etc) away from banks financing fossil fuels. You may have seen the viral video featuring Olivia Coleman as ‘Oblivia Coalmine’ on how many of our pensions are funding fossil fuels.


Graphic with the copy: 'Fuelling Positive Change - the campaign to take charity money out of fossil fuels' and an illustration of a planet going from dirty and polluted to green and clean.


We Are Money Movers is helping women develop financial confidence; their peer-support programme enables a group traditionally alienated by the financial system — women — to take climate action with their finances.

Within our own Green Fundraisers Forum, we see incredible work by the Green Finance Institute, Green Finance Community Hub and Finance Innovation Lab. All three are helping to rebuild the finance system to work better for people and the planet.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of organisations working to help us green our finances, but we hope it inspires you — as both an individual and part of an organisation — to consider what you might do next to ensure your investments and pensions are working to protect the planet, not the other way around. And remember to tell others if you do take action: much of the power of divestment lies in the impact it has on the social licence of fossil fuel companies, and the banks that continue to invest in them.

Finally, we wanted to share in full our letter to the CEO of HSBC, Ian Stuart. The letter details why we have made this decision, the reporting on HSBC and our commitment to share this decision and reasons with our members and community. Also recent reporting by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed that HSBC helped the oil and gas industry raise $47bn despite net-zero pledge – further cementing our concerns detailed in the letter below:


Ian Stuart
HSBC UK Bank Plc
1 Centenary Square
Birmingham B1 1HQ

27 November 2023

Dear Mr Stuart,

We write to inform you that we will be closing our HSBC Business bank account and to explain why. We are a registered charity working in the environmental sector and in line with our environmental policy we have opened a new bank account with a provider that does not invest in the fossil fuel industry. We will be communicating our decision and reasons for taking this action by sharing a copy of this letter with our members (almost 1,000 people comprised of foundation donors, trustees and staff members, individual high net worth donors, and philanthropy / wealth advisors), on social media and on our website.

To have a chance at avoiding unacceptable harm to millions of people alive today, to future generations and to all other species, fossil fuel expansion must stop, and use of fossil fuels across all sectors must decline rapidly. Despite clear and dire warnings from climate experts, the world’s biggest banks continue to pour billions of dollars into fossil fuel expansion. In the latest fossil fuel finance report from Banking on Climate Chaos, HSBC is ranked 13th in the world league table for fossil fuel financing – only just outside their so-called ‘dirty dozen’ – having invested just over $11bn in fossil fuels in 2022, long after the alarm had been sounded. Fossil fuels pose not only a threat to our climate, but oil and gas exploration and development also frequently poison people and wildlife and destroy habitat where they take place.

While we welcome HSBC’s announcement in December 2022 to ‘no longer provide any new lending or capital markets finance for the specific purpose of projects pertaining to new oil and gas fields’, we feel that HSBC’s current financing of the sector is still unacceptably high and that the commitment to continue financing existing oil and gas fields means that it is set to continue. HSBC also continues corporate finance activities with oil and gas producers that are likely to facilitate further production of fossil fuels. If banks continue to provide finance to fossil fuel industries, whilst the environmental cost to the planet of their extraction and burning is not reflected in fossil fuel pricing, the urgently needed transition to clean energy is slowed. This transition needs to be ‘orderly’ as you set out in your Energy Policy but it also needs to be achieved before it is too late. Current HSBC targets are not compatible with the ambitions of the Paris Climate Accord as they do not provide a fully transparent and measurable pathway to net zero and the bank’s activities continue to finance fossil fuel companies, such as Exxon and Saudi Aramco, that have not provided commitments that align with the Paris Climate Accord.

We cannot continue to hold money with HSBC knowing that our bank deposits are financing fossil fuels. The commitment to align your ‘financed emissions’ to net zero by 2050 may well be too late and we urge you to take bold and impactful action to achieve this much earlier.

Yours sincerely,

Florence Miller


Footnotes – useful terms:

  • NCVO defines divestment as ‘Divestment means moving money away from funds for financial, ethical, or other reasons.?It is the opposite of investment. This could include disposing of stocks, bonds, or investments.’ 
  • NCVO defines fossil fuel divestment as ‘when an organisation or individual moves their money away from businesses involved in the extraction, production, transportation, refining and marketing of fossil fuels’. 


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