How your bank savings can help save the planet

The Global Returns Project aims to use a small percentage of people’s savings to help groups fighting climate change.

US wind turbines [Bloomberg]
The Global Returns Project asks people to commit 0.25 percent of their savings each year towards climate causes, and hopes to raise $10bn a year [File: Eddie Seal/Bloomberg]

You may not know it, but the savings sitting in your bank account are likely contributing to the climate crisis, since major financial institutions regularly extend financing to fossil-fuel companies and other polluting industries. But two former executives say they have found an easy way for you to redirect a small amount of assets to protect the planet instead.

Yan Swiderski and Jasper Judd, founders of The Global Returns Project, are asking individuals to commit 0.25% of their savings and investments every year to organizations that are combating global warming—with the goal of raising a regular annual total of $10 billion within the next decade.

“We are blurring the line between investment and philanthropy by thinking more broadly about what returns we should be looking for and working with financial institutions to create a new normal,” said Judd, who formerly worked as a senior executive at Australia’s Brambles Ltd., a global support services company.

Judd and Swiderski plan to partner with banks and other financial-services providers to show them the importance of offering clients an easy way to direct more of their savings and investments to help the environment.

“Funding not-for-profit climate solutions yields returns just like any other investment,” said Swiderski, who founded the investment firm Finisterre Capital before deciding in 2014 to run an organic farm. “The returns are externalized and shared, but they are real, identifiable and global.”

The men said that all of the investors’ contributions will go to charities including Ashden, ClientEarth, Global Canopy, Rainforest Trust and Trillion Trees, which focus on a range of climate issues from preventing deforestation to enacting environmental policies and funding clean-energy innovations.

Source: Bloomberg