How consumers, businesses, and the government can make pensions greener to fight climate change

How consumers, businesses, and the government can make pensions greener to fight climate change
Investing our pensions in green initiatives instead of things like deforestation can make a huge difference. Clean Energy Fuels
  • One of the most powerful ways to fight climate change is to make sure your money is put to good use.
  • The "How your wallet could save the world" event at COP26 will cover how to make your money greener.

Embracing a plant-based diet and reducing energy consumption are ways to reduce your carbon footprint, but your retirement savings also play a role in the climate crisis.

Money is one of the most powerful tools in addressing climate change, Kenneth Green, campaigns manager at Make My Money Matter (MMMM), a UK-based organization working to make pensions greener, told Insider, "But it's also one of the least talked about, and the one people are the least aware of."

To help people better understand how to make their money greener, MMMM is joining Count Us In, an organization mobilizing people to reduce their carbon impact, and WWF-UK in hosting "How your wallet could save the world" at the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 (COP26) in Glasgow on November 3. The event will feature speakers discussing the role your savings, the bank that you use, and your pensions play in the climate crisis, and what you can do to ensure that impact is positive.

The session will be introduced by Richard Curtis, film writer, director, and cofounder of MMMM, and will include a series of speeches, short films on the power of money, and a chance for attendees to ask questions. The event will end with a screening of the film "Our Planet: Too Big to Fail," created by WWF and Silverback Films.

"With people across the world determined to make their money matter, and the demand for cleaner, greener pensions growing across society, now is the time for individuals, the financial industry, and the government to put pensions at the heart of the climate agenda," Curtis wrote in an opinion piece published in The Guardian in September. "And it makes such logical sense - what's the point in collecting a pension in a world on fire?"


Of the 2.6 trillion pounds invested in UK pensions, MMMM estimates that a large portion funds industries like deforestation, fossil fuels, and arms. The organization is urging people to change that by telling their pension providers to go green and invest funds in industries like clean energy, healthcare, and green transportation.

To do that, people can take the 21x challenge and send a message to their pension providers asking them to green up their investments. According to the organization, a green pension is 21 times more effective than "giving up flying, going veggie, and switching energy providers" in reducing a person's carbon footprint.

"We know finance can be such a difficult topic and so many people don't really know how to take action on their money," Green said. "We're keen to give people actionable steps."

Companies are also urged to sign the Green Pensions Charter, which encourages them to "match their pensions with their values." The charter asks that companies explore how their pension systems can meet net-zero goals by 2050. Green said about 70 organizations have signed on, including IKEA and grocery store chain Tesco, and more may be announced at COP26.

About 800 billion pounds in net-zero commitments from pension funds have been committed so far, he said. MMMM is also urging the UK government to mandate that pension providers commit to net-zero initiatives.


"Any business who is trying to green their practices in general really needs to include their finances because if they're not including their finances, they're missing a huge scope," Green said. "It's all very well having vegetarian meals in your canteen, but if your money is still invested in factory farms, there's obviously a huge disconnect there."