Carbon Challenge Week 1: Power, Banks & Super – Why divesting is one of the most important changes you can make
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” - Vincent Van Gogh.
Don't forget to register for the Carbon Challenge for your chance to win $6K in prizes!
Welcome to Week 1 of the Carbon Challenge.
We’re kicking things off with what we think is one of the easiest ways to collectively make a big difference. Granted it’s going to take a little research, and some up-front work, but once you’ve made these small changes you can literally set and forget!
Week 1 we’re talking Power, Banks & Super… don’t let these three words put you off! Trust us, 30 minutes of your time invested in research and action can make a huge difference to what you care about – the health of people & planet!
So, let’s get started…
The Dirty Truth
Residential energy use represents 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Australia has the highest emissions per capita of all developed countries, emissions from electricity represent a third of Australian greenhouse gases. 62% of electricity is produced from dirty coal making the Australian grid once of the most polluting in the world.
Only a quarter of Australian electricity comes from renewable sources despite having an abundance of resources.
However, consumers are becoming more conscious; 20% of Australian households have rooftop solar systems with government initiatives such as the small scale renewable energy scheme making renewable alternatives more accessible for home owners and small businesses.
How Green is Your Power Provider?
While solar will save you money in the long term it can be expensive to install. There are many energy providers that offer cleaner energy however it’s important to compare options before making a decision. For example, one established provider was recently bought by Shell, a multinational oil and gas giant undermining their authenticity.
No provider is able to guarantee the source of energy as all electricity comes from the national grid with no visibility of its source be it renewable or fossil fuel based. Clean energy providers operate by off-setting emissions. Ideally providers will also invest in new renewable developments rather than existing sources. New infrastructure ensures the growth of the clean energy industry.
How to Green Your Home.
Greenpower is a government managed scheme, providing 100% renewable accredited local energy sources such as hydro, solar, wind and bioenergy. Making Greenpower Australia’s most sustainable energy provider, empowering consumers to be part of a collective movement to a greener cleaner energy. Greenpower has a greater impact than other providers as other carbon neutral schemes are not always based within Australia. Carbon neutral off-setting initiatives can vary from waste management to tree planting.
Another consideration when choosing a new provider are sustainability and transparency policies.
Wild Energy at Arnhem.
We use Enova Community Energy, Australia’s first community-owned energy retailer which is also a social enterprise, based in the Northern Rivers. Community-owned and operated, Enova is renewables-focused, with all of its energy sourced from its own customers’ rooftops and from Diamond Energy, a renewable energy generator. As a social enterprise, Enova re-invest 50% of profits into its not-for-profit arm to build self-sustaining and resilient communities through locally generated and shared renewable energy. Enova aims to assist communities make the transition to renewable energy without leaving anyone behind; to keep jobs and profits in local communities; and to reduce carbon emissions. Enova currently operates throughout New South Wales and South East Queensland.
Invest to Save The Planet.
Not only can you can reduce your footprint through your energy provider, but your choice of bank and superannuation fund can have a significant social and environmental impact. So many of us are unaware of where our money is being invested and if investments are in line with our personal values. Many global financial institutions have traditionally invested in harmful industries that are contributing to the climate crisis and inequality for example fossil fuels, nuclear weapons, arms, gambling, tobacco, live animal exports and unethical labour, just to name a few. We have the power to make meaningful change through our choices.
Who’s the Greenest of Them All?
There are authentic and transparent socially responsible finance options however, there is unfortunately limited regulation of sustainable investment. Responsible Investment Association Australia (RIAA) is an independent accreditation body that regulates sustainable investment. However ethical and sustainable practise are not clearly defined. For example, a fund can claim to exclude fossil fuels but still earn up to 20% of their revenue from fossil fuels and the minimum standard for ethical practices are not investing in arms or tobacco.
According to Market Forces, Australia’s major banks funded $8.9 billion of investment into coal, oil and gas in 2020, an 18% increase from 2019 despite committing to the global goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
Health insurers are waking up to the impact of fossil fuels on human health and many are divesting from polluting industries.
It’s important to do your research before making a decision on who to entrust your money with – check out our suggested tools, and find out what Jade at Salty Aura did below.
Green Web Hosting
Search engines are another consideration. Ecosia, a German based not for profit donates 80% of its profits to organisations throughout the world with a focus on native tree planting working with local communities. They offer transparency and do not capitalise on your personal data.
21 Ideas to Minimise Your Carbon Footprint
Here are some tips and tricks to reduce your emissions through your energy usage and take back your power to minimise your environmental and social impact:
1. Turn lights and appliances off when not in use
2. Replace lightbulbs with energy efficient LEDs
3. Compare energy efficiency ratings when buying new appliances
4. Wash clothes in cold water
5. Dry clothes naturally, do not use clothes dryers
6. Use the eco setting when using a dishwasher
7. Utilise sunlight to warm your home by opening curtains
8. Ensure your home is well insulated
9. Set your hot water system to 50 degrees Celsius
10. Conserve hot water by taking shorter showers
11. Wear layers in winter and invest in a hot water bottle
12. Adjust your thermostat to a lower setting
13. Install solar panels
14. Switch to a clean energy provider
15. Off-set through charitable donations
16. Plant trees
1. Research and switch to ethical banking
2. Research and switch to a socially and responsible super fund
3. Market Forces offer insights into responsible finance:
4. Research alternative search engines that respect privacy and personal data
5. Research and switch to ethical and responsible health insurance
Don’t forget to go back to the Carbon Calculator.
You can check your quarterly power and gas bills and divide them by three to get your monthly total. When you make the switch to clean energy, over the course of the following months you can go back and update your totals, and compare the impact that you’ve had on the planet.
Head on back to our Carbon Challenge here.
How Jade from Salty Aura Joined The Movement
Our friend Jade from Salty Aura has provided some information on her journey with divesting and shifting her banking choices for the planet.
Who do you bank with?
I think it’s crazy how we are told all the little ways we can be more sustainable (reusable coffee cups, bamboo straws etc) but you hardly hear people talk about our bank and super account. The guys you bank with could literally be using your money to invest in fossil fuels. For example, in the last 5 years ANZ have loaned $13 BILLION to fossil fuels!!
Banks funding fossil fuels and their subsidiaries. In 5 years loaned:
- AMP $530 million
- ANZ $13 billion.
- ING $722 million
- Westpac $6 billion
- NAB $9 billion
- Commbank $14 billion
Each time you make a deposit, your bank essentially borrows some of that money from your account and lends it out to other borrowers, whether it’s an auto or home loan, a personal loan, or credit.
Once we found this out, we switched as soon as we could. This meant even switching our home loan. It’s so worth it in the long run! We now use Bank Australia. They are carbon neutral, support climate positive projects and are b Corp certified. There is a huge list of other great banks here**https://www.marketforces.org.au/info/compare-bank-table/
Who is your super fund manager?
This is even more important than who you bank with. Your super account exists so it can invest your money, to grow overtime for retirement. There’s a very high chance yours may be investing this money straight into mining companies and fossil fuels, so this is an important one to look into.
I changed our super funds to Australian Ethical, and it literally took minutes to do! You just give them your TFN and they gather all the money from your other super accounts into theirs automatically. If you have a lot in your super, speak to a professional first before you make the switch, as you may have insurance tied up in yours.