Investing in change: How your banking choices can shape a greener future

by Y10 student Kasen Heiskanen

Climate change is this huge overwhelming thing right? It can bring a mixed bag of emotions. Some of us may feel fear and hopelessness – that our children will live in a very different world to the one we live in today. Some fear that the climate crisis already poses an “existential risk” to the health and wellbeing of children. Others choose to ignore it, believing that it’s someone else’s problem or would even prefer to believe that it isn’t real. And then there are those of us who are ready to fight, to make a real difference.. 

It might feel like you are powerless, just one person in 8 billion. I know that I have felt this way. How could one 16 year old in Sydney make a difference? But are we really powerless?

Most of us think that only governments and big corporations can do anything meaningful to address climate change. Only they can transition to renewable energy production, find solutions to our waste crisis and fund research into technologies that can save us. But we can make changes that are easier and more impactful than you might think.

We all have money in a bank. It’s safe, convenient, and we can use it whenever we want. But did you ever think about where that money goes when it’s not in your pocket? Banks take our money and invest it in different things, including fossil fuel companies. Yeah, you heard me right – the same companies contributing to the climate crisis!

Banks, especially the Big Four are notorious for taking the money you give them and investing it into fossil fuel companies. Yes. By banking with Westpac, Commbank, ANZ, or NAB you are unintentionally funding the climate crisis. ANZ alone has given $18.6 billion to fossil fuel companies. Adani has spent $1.4 billion to build a controversial coal mine in Queensland. These investments could possibly create several more of these massive coal mines that destroy land, the ocean and create environmental harm that won’t be fully recognised for decades. When we add NAB’s $14.1 billion dollar loans and subsidies, Commonwealth Bank’s $15.8 billion dollars and Westpac’s $9 billion dollars, Australia Big Four have lent out $57.5 billion dollars to fossil fuel companies bigger than the entire GDP’s of several nations including Cameroon, Latvia and Jordan. 

This is why, one of the biggest and easiest actions everyone can take to combat climate change is to change our banks and superannuation funds. With a few clicks of a button or a phone call, you can limit the funds available to fossil fuel companies. Yes that’s right, it doesn’t take a massive lifestyle change to start fighting the climate crisis.

One of the most useful sites for understanding all this information is Market Forces, a non profit organisation that aims to expose where all our money really goes and hoping this information will spark more mindfulness when it comes to investing money. Unfortunately, most banks in Australia including the Big Four all lend money to fossil fuel companies, however other banks such Suncorp, Bank Australia and Bendigo Bank refuse to invest in any new fossil fuel projects or companies. By banking with these banks, we can make a genuine impact.

I believe that if we all make the switch, and encourage everyone around us to do the same – we can make a real difference. Banks rely on us to continue investing more money, and if we take that away, it forces them to make the right decision – to divest their investments away from fossil fuel companies and into renewable and environmentally sustainable companies instead. We can not only make a difference, but we can give money to those battling climate change right now. 

So, what are we waiting for?

Kasen has participated in the Climate Fresk which is a 3-hour workshop designed to help people explore the science of climate change, the impacts it is creating and empower people to be part of the solution. For more information visit