Net zero finance and carbon emissions of banking sector

Net zero finance

Net zero finance failures have been highlighted by a new ranking system that reveals the carbon emissions of UK’s biggest banks.

Net zero finance and green savings company MotherTree says that  £1,000 held in a current account could be responsible for contributing up to 0.29 tonnes of carbon per year if you hold your money with the worst ranked offenders, the equivalent of driving over 729 miles in the average passenger vehicle.

The findings are calculated by looking at the overall carbon footprint of the UK’s major banks, including investment in fossil fuels, and the proportion of their overall net assets represented by each £1,000 saved by an individual in the bank.

In 2020, the average UK adult had £5,677 in savings. This amount held in a Barclays account is producing the same levels of CO2 each year as is emitted by the production of 42 kilos of beef which is more than eating a cheeseburger a day. To put this into context, flying from the UK to Rome and back seven times produces less CO25.

The new net zero finance research points towards the banking sector’s investments in fossil fuels as one of the UK’s biggest contributors to climate change, and supports calls for more transparency to be introduced across the sector, to ensure UK consumers are more informed when choosing their bank or pension provider.

Switching to a greener savings account doesn’t mean a loss of interest but can actually earn consumers more on their savings. For example, Barclay’s highest freely available savings rate (for non rewards members) is 0.35% compared to 1.15% from the UK’s greenest bank, Triodos.

“Many people have no idea that their choice of bank has such an impact on climate change,” said Dan Sherrard-Smith, ceo of MotherTree. “The good news is that consumers have the power to control their own financial investments and that switching to greener accounts might actually help them earn more money in the form of higher interest rates. With switching banks now easier than ever, one of the best things UK consumers could do to reduce their carbon footprint is also one of the easiest!”

MotherTree, a free service which calculates your money’s carbon footprint, is calling for all UK banks to be more transparent about their climate footprint and will continue to update their net zero finance ranking on the best and worst banks as more banks make this available.

Carbon emission calculations are based on the available data from banks and public resources. All data is calculated using publicly available information from verified sources:
1 The average passenger vehicle emits about 0.000404 tonnes of CO2 per mile…
2The average UK household has £5,767 saved…
3 Each KG of beef farmed and consumed produces 39.25KG of CO2…
4 Average McDonalds cheeseburger contains 90 grams of beef…
5 A flight to Rome produces 109KG of CO2
**** (Analysis conducted by

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