‘Let’s reset our economy’: one bank’s manifesto for a greener future

To celebrate its 25th anniversary in the UK, Triodos Bank has released a manifesto for a greener, fairer and more humane economy after the pandemic

Of all the opinion polls that were conducted during the ban, the results of a YouGov survey were particularly revealing: only 9 percent of those questioned stated that life should become “normal” again after the end of the coronavirus crisis.

The pandemic, climate emergency and recent protests against Black Lives Matter have highlighted the shortcomings in an economic system that, despite the rise in the standard of living of millions of people, has fueled climate change and biodiversity loss, underpinning structural racism and inequality . The YouGov survey suggests that this finding has now entered mainstream consciousness.

Environmental groups and business leaders – including some captains of the low-carbon industry – have joined the British government's calls to promote a green recovery after the pandemic. Triodos, the sustainable bank that captured the post-pandemic zeitgeist, goes one step further his manifesto on resetting the global economy.

"In general, the people most affected by Covid-19 were some of the most vulnerable in society," said Gareth Griffiths, head of retail banking at Triodos Bank UK. "(The Manifesto) is about the need for us to be more resilient, sustainable and inclusive."

Climate change and corona virus have focused on shortcomings in the current economic system

Climate change and corona virus have focused on shortcomings in the current economic system. Image: Markus Spiske

The pandemic coincides with Triodos UK's 25th anniversary and its parent company's 40th anniversary. Triodos bankSince its inception, the bank has developed a model for responsible and transparent banking that focuses on using finance to drive positive social, environmental and cultural change. It is an ethos that sets it apart from its main competitors, which follow market forces rather than morality. Even now, with the death blow for coal, the boom in renewable energy, and global warming, many of the big banks are still plowing billions into fossil fuels.

Triodos' compassionate approach to funding and commitment to renewable energy was rewarded with a Queen & # 39; s award for companies in the sustainable development category this year. Celebrations have been discussed, however, and instead of looking back at the last quarter of a century, Triodos has targeted the post-pandemic in the near future with the publication of a 48-page manifesto that calls for a “reset” of the global economy.

The document describes a series of fiscal measures to deal with the impending climate crisis and at the same time lays the foundation for a more egalitarian economy that can withstand shocks such as that caused by the corona virus. One of the most important recommendations is to retire GDP as the only measure of progress and to replace it with a scale that respects and respects ecological boundaries the United Nations' goals for sustainable development (SDGs).

"Instead of economic growth, the central values ​​on which government policy is based and decisions about corporate investments are judged should be people, planets and wealth," argues Kees Vendrik, chief economist at Triodos Bank and co-author of the manifesto. “Economic growth must make room for wellbeing; Risk and reward metrics should be enriched and companies should report on them. "

Instead of economic growth, the central values ​​on which government policy is based and corporate investment decisions are judged should be people, planets and wealth

Vendrik and co-author Hans Stegeman, Chief Investment Strategist at Triodos Investment Management, also urge governments to rethink the concept of the "entrepreneurial state" by developing a public investment agenda based on green goals. An advocate of entrepreneurial states is economist Mariana Mazzucato, who reminds people that innovations such as the iPhone were only possible through the Internet and GPS, which were developed with public funds.

The Triodos manifesto also advocates the introduction of a global competition policy to dissolve monopolistic global companies, arguing that this will lead to a more diverse, resilient, and localized economy that meets the needs of communities.

The bank has achieved some success in this area. Since its launch in the UK, the company has used private capital to fund municipal renewable energy projects that have put power in people's hands. Such initiatives, the bank argues, show that there are more sustainable, open and comprehensive alternatives to centralized markets.

Climate change was a marginal problem and renewable energies accounted for only 2 percent of the UK electricity mix when Triodos UK was launched. Today, the country has committed to creating zero net emissions by 2050. and between July and September last year, renewable energies replaced fossil fuels as the main source of electricity for the first time in a quarter.

Triodos Bank uses private investments to finance municipal projects for renewable energies

Triodos Bank uses private investments to finance municipal projects for renewable energies. Picture: Alex Eckermann

In the meantime, the once radical ethos of Triodos is increasingly seen as a reasonable way of doing business. Multinational companies from Nike to Unilever are trying to take a leadership role in environmental and social issues. "Triodos plays a critical role in driving action forward, and I think we will continue to do so as we have in the past 25 years," said Griffiths.

People, he adds, can be part of an effort to “rebuild better” by being more critical of where they put their money. He emphasizes that Make my money important Campaign as something that people can leave behind. With support from Triodos, it urges individuals, organizations and governments to ensure that pension funds prioritize people and the planet and make profits. Around £ 3 trillion has been invested in British pensions, much of which is financed by harmful industries such as fossil fuels and weapons.

A bank change is another effective way to drive positive change, Griffiths says. "One of the fastest ways to change the world is to change your bank – and that doesn't just mean getting to the bank with Triodos," he says. "That means that an active public decides how you think your bank should work if it doesn't work the way it should." He adds: "Conscious use of money can help us build a resilient economy for the future."

Add progress: Triodos UK's timeline

1980

  • Triodos Bank NV is established in the Netherlands with seed capital of € 540,000 (£ 490,000) and a full banking license from the Dutch central bank

1994

  • Triodos Bank is setting up the Wind Fund in the UK to invest in small renewable energy projects. The Wind Fund later becomes Thrive Renewables, an independent company

1995

  • Triodos Bank United Kingdom is founded

1999

  • Triodos Bank's investment offering was expanded with the introduction of Triodos Investment Management

2009

  • Triodos Bank is a co-founder of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, an independent network of banks that use finance to ensure sustainable economic, social and environmental development

2011

  • Triodos Bank, the University of Utrecht and the Utrecht Sustainability Institute establish the Sustainable Finance Lab Foundation with the aim of supporting a stable and robust financial sector that serves humanity without polluting its environment

2016

  • The Paris Agreement is signed by 195 nations

2017

  • Triodos UK opens a personal checking account and offers the most sustainable checking account ever launched on the UK market

2018

  • The Triodos crowdfunding platform is launched in the UK and enables people to invest directly in stocks or bonds

2019

  • UK arm customer deposits are £ 1bn. Britain is the first major economy to commit to zero net CO2 emissions by 2050. Renewable energies generate more electricity than fossil fuels for the first time in a quarterly period

Main picture: The community-owned wind turbine in Coigach in Scotland was financed through the crowdfunding site Triodos



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