Is your money funding climate change?


The environment has always been important to me. It wasn’t until recently that I understood the impact where I bank has on the earth. Even more importantly, I didn’t realize that my money could be used to fight climate change. 

When I was younger, I didn’t know much about money and banking. However, as I grew older, I grew more interested in the importance of finance. This is why I started taking the steps to learn about saving and investing. Once I started to educate myself, I realized that my money was doing more than just paying my bills. It may be funding the very things that I’m against. 

Is my money funding climate change?

I was surprised to learn that most financial institutions (FIs) lend to or invest in fossil fuel projects. What this means is, my money was being loaned out to these projects and I was unknowingly funding the climate crisis.

Discovering this was a huge slap in the face. After learning this, I started to question my actions. Did riding my bike or reusing and reducing waste even matter if my money was still going towards pipelines and fracking projects? 

As I continued my research, I discovered that my deposits and investments didn’t have to create environmental devastation. They could also be used to build a clean and fair world. I moved to a banking option that aligned with my environmental and social values.

What is COP26?

I recently met with Alison Coates, Vancity’s Director of Climate Strategy and Performance who explained that the world’s nations are meeting this month at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). In 2015, the Paris Agreement saw world nations enter into a legally binding international treaty to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees. This was the first time a binding agreement brought all nations together on a commitment to combat climate change. 

Alison shared that one of the focuses of this year’s conference is finance. There is a lot that countries need to do, to lower their emissions and bring people along in a just transition – and finance plays a key role. As she put it, “what gets financed, gets done.” The organizers of COP26 agree with her: “The scale and speed of the changes we need to make will require all forms of finance… every financial decision needs to take climate into account.” 

What is Vancity doing?

One of the main strategies for engaging FIs in fighting climate change is through the Net Zero Banking Alliance. Under the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, the Alliance guides FIs towards net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. Net-zero emissions means that the emissions resulting from their lending and investment portfolios equals zero at mid-century.   The earth desperately needs emissions to lower as soon as possible.

As the only Canadian FI to be a founding member of the Net Zero Banking Alliance, Vancity has taken this commitment further with the goal to be net-zero by 2040. Alison explained, “we already don’t lend to or invest directly in fossil fuels, so we are in a strong position to make this transition from the outset. Vancity is working to finance a just low-carbon transition that leaves no one behind.” 

Is your money helping or hurting the earth?

It’s clear. Where we put our money is one of the most impactful individual actions we can take to fight the climate crisis. 

Vancity members are part of a movement. Our money is supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy that puts people at its centre and leaves no one behind. It’s time to get everyone involved to make these important environmental shifts. Take the step to join Vancity and start making an impact today.

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