ESG update – Cost of living spurs demand for sustainable investments

Date: 28 Mar 2023

Silvia Ricciardi

UK consumers urge banks to invest in long-term sustainable change in light of cost of living and climate crises.

New research shows that the cost of living crisis has accelerated people’s frustration with big banks making huge profits, leading them to demand the financial sector to focus more on investing in long-term positive impact.

Rising energy bills and living costs have accelerated people’s dissatisfaction with the status quo of the financial system, leading them to demand positive long-term change, reveals new research from Triodos Bank UK.

Nearly three quarters of the UK public (73%) believe we need to collectively invest in long-term solutions to the issues the world is facing – such as investing in renewable energy to bring down energy costs and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

This demand is being driven by three quarters of people (75%) saying they are frustrated that big banks continue to make huge profits despite cost of living increases. For those over the age of 55, this rises to 81% – implying that the older generations may be even more concerned.

In light of rising household costs, over half of people (54%) want banks to do more to invest in long-term sustainable change, while 53% say being more careful with their money makes them think more critically about how it is being used by their bank. 

Cost of living and sustainable finance

As household bills rise, many people admit to feeling that the agency they have over their money has waned. Two-thirds (65%) say they worry that cost of living increases have had an impact on their ability to use their money for positive change, while more than half (54%) admit that making sustainable choices with their money has taken a back seat to prioritising immediate rising costs.

However, ahead of ISA season, almost two-thirds of people (64%) say those that can afford to invest should choose sustainable investments that help bring about positive change for everyone. Meanwhile, 65% say individual investors have a responsibility to ensure their money is being used for good, instead of funding harmful practices such as fossil fuels.

For the younger generation, aged 18-34 – that has come of age under the shadow of the climate crisis – this attitude is even more prevalent. Seven in 10 (69%) of this age group say they want their money to help fund projects and companies that only work in sustainable sectors, while more than half (56%) say they have become more interested in ESG over the past year. Six in 10 (60%) say they don’t want their bank to back fossil fuels.

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