A guest blog from our partner Christian Aid on the effects of our campaigning together over the past few years…
The Launch of the Big Shift at Greenbelt
A few years ago, Christian Aid and Greenbelt launched the Big Shift campaign, calling on UK banks to stop financing fossil fuels and to use their considerable financial clout to help quicken the shift towards renewable energy.
Maybe you were at the festival that year, attended a campaign workshop, signed a postcard, or had a chat with our campaigns volunteers (pictured below).
Maybe you’ve wondered what happened with the campaign, and what progress has been made. Well, during these challenging times. We’re delighted to share some good news.
We rarely see the impacts of our activism in the immediate aftermath, sometimes it can take months, years or even decades to fully realise the impact of our collective actions.
Rebecca Solnit has written eloquently about this and the importance of never giving up hope.
Campaign wins in 2020
In the case of the Big Shift, the first half of 2020 has yielded significant announcements from Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and HSBC.
In January, Lloyds pledged to halve the carbon emissions it finances through personal and business loans by 2030. Lloyds Chief Executive, Antonio Horta-Osorio, said: ‘The next decade will be crucial for protecting the planet and financial services has a critical role to play.’
We agree! The Big Shift campaign was premised on the belief that private banks hold the key to a brighter future based on renewable energy or will lock us into more dirty energy and further climate breakdown if they fail to stop financing fossil fuels.
Hot on the heels of the Lloyds announcement, in February, RBS announced that it will halve the climate impact of its loans by 2030.
And in April, a few days after their highly secretive AGM, HSBC announced that they had closed a loophole in their energy policy – a loophole which had allowed HSBC to fund new coal power stations in three highly climate-vulnerable countries – Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Vietnam – Despite coal being the most polluting energy source and a major contributor the climate crisis.
We were flabbergasted that a bank that prides itself on its sustainable credentials could even consider financing the expansion of new coal power, let alone in countries where our global neighbours are already facing devastating impacts of the climate crisis.
It’s no small feat that they have changed this policy and your campaigning has helped.
Your actions make a difference
From the launch of the campaign at Greenbelt 2017, and over the past 3 years over 80,000 emails and 20,000 postcards have been sent to banks and hundreds of church groups visited bank branches and delivered personalised letters to the CEOs.
Simultaneously environmental organisations and activists in Vietnam, Bangladesh and Indonesia were calling for HSBC’s loophole to be closed, and many other groups and activists continue to campaign to the UK’s biggest banks.
Sometimes it may have felt like we weren’t making any headway but, as ever, some of our biggest campaign victories happen after we’ve moved on to another campaign. Change in some of the world’s most powerful and entrenched institutions takes time and it requires persistence. For us we need to keep hoping and keep raising our voices for a more just world.