Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, and Aisling Bea are among the famous people who want the five biggest High Street UK banks in the UK to stop giving money to new oil, gas, and coal projects.
It comes after HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest, and Lloyds were criticised for funding “fossil fuel expansion” even though they had made green promises.
Greenpeace and other businesses and charities also back the campaign.
Both HSBC and Barclays said they were helping their customers cut their carbon footprints.
The Make My Money Matter campaign points to research by the environmental charity Rainforest Action Network, which says that between 2016 and 2021, HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest, and Lloyds gave almost $368 billion (£298 billion) to the fossil fuel industry.
It also said that during the same time period, the lenders gave $141bn to the 50 companies that put the most money into oil and gas projects.
It also said that HSBC and Lloyds had made “welcome new announcements” about stopping direct financing for new fossil fuel expansion since then, but “there is a long way to go.”
“This month, it was discovered that HSBC gave $340 million to a company that was opening a new coal mine in Germany,” it said.
The campaign, which is backed by actor Mark Rylance and musician Brian Eno, wants people to sign an open letter asking UK banks to stop directly financing projects that use more fossil fuels or to stop working with clients who do.
Filmmaker Richard Curtis started the campaign because he wanted to “light a fire under the UK banks.”
He also said, “It’s clear that new oil and gas fields are not only very bad for the environment but also very unpopular with the public.”
Almost a third of the customers of HSBC, Barclays, Santander, NatWest, and Lloyds that the campaign polled said they would switch UK banks if they found out that their current bank was helping to fund the expansion of fossil fuel projects.
Over 85% of customers at the five banks surveyed said they didn’t think their bank was doing enough to deal with the climate crisis.
Chris Packham CBE, a TV host, said that financial institutions have a “enormous ethical and moral responsibility” to stop giving money to groups that hurt the environment and biodiversity.
“Impact on a large scale”
High Street UK bankshave taken steps to cut ties with companies that hurt the environment.
HSBC told the BBC that it no longer gave new oil and gas fields money or advice. It also said that “helping clients in high-emitting sectors to reduce their carbon footprint will have the biggest effect on reducing emissions.”
Barclays said it would support “carbon-intensive” companies less over time if they “couldn’t or wouldn’t cut or get rid of their emissions.” Since January 2019, it hasn’t given loans to build or expand coal-fired power plants or thermal coal mines in new areas.
NatWest Group said that the bank no longer lent money to or insured big coal, oil, or gas producers “unless they have a credible transition plan in line with the Paris Agreement.” It said that because of this, fossil fuel financing at the bank had dropped by £1 billion.
Santander said that it is “fully committed” to helping the world get to net zero, and it won’t finance any new oil projects.
Lloyds, the biggest bank in Britain, said in October that it would stop giving “direct” loans to develop new oil and gas fields. Lloyds has also been asked to comment by the BBC.
In 2015, 197 countries signed the Paris Agreement, which said they would try to keep temperature rises “well below” 1.5C to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Experts say that for this to happen, countries will need to have zero net emissions by the year 2050.