The real power of the consumer

Date:

Ken Huggins North Dorset Green Party

Attempting to tidy my overburdened desk recently, I discovered a copy of Ethical Consumer magazine. The cover picture showed a Lego family, standing on top of our planet, which was shaped like a piggy bank and stained with oil. The child was asking ‘Mum and Dad, are your savings messing up my future?’ Above, the headline was ‘Can your pension and investments help to fight climate change?’
The magazine was dated spring 2014, and the article on ethical banks scored Barclays the worst of all. In 2023, they are still bumping along the bottom, with an ethical score of TWO out of 20 points. I have now finally closed my long-held Barclays account. Better late than never.
(I chose Triodos instead – other ethical banks are available!)
My pension fund is ranked second best for ethics, but it still only scores 10 out of 20 points, so the pension industry clearly has a long way to go. An October 2021 report found that the UK pensions industry enables more CO2 emissions worldwide than all the UK’s carbon emissions put together.
It’s why the Dorset Action group has been urging Dorset Council to divest the millions their pension fund has invested in fossil fuels. Yes, pension funds must seek the best possible returns for their members, but as renewable sources of energy now make more economic sense than fossil fuels, it is obvious where the long-term smart money should go. And of course profit is not the only criteria. To quote Sir David Attenborough: ‘It is crazy that our banks and our pensions are investing in fossil fuels, when these are the very things that are jeopardising the future we are saving for’.
If you are a member of Dorset Council’s pension scheme, you can go to dtaction.co.uk to see how you can help persuade the council to change its investment strategy.
Change has to come – and come soon. We consumers really do have the power to drive that change! From changing our lightbulbs to our bank accounts – whatever else we can change – we can help to create a future everyone can all enjoy.

Ken Huggins
North Dorset Green Party

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