Ever feel frustrated that your hard earned pennies are being pumped into coal-mining, cluster bombs or credit default swaps? Then March is the month to move it!

Beth Stratford preparing for the move to a better bank.

Today is the first day of Move Your Money Month, during which thousands of people will be moving their money out of the big banks like RBS, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander and into mutually owned, community-focused or ethically minded banks.

Research by Banktrack has shown that UK banks – including those which are now partly or wholly owned by the taxpayer – are among some of the biggest financers of climate change.  Since 2005, for example, Barclays, RBS and HSBC have between them pumped £27 billion of funding into the coal industry.

This is precisely the sort of financing which is locking us into long term dependence on fossil fuels (and helping to perpetuate human and labour rights abuses in coal extraction industries around the world).  If all coal-fired power plants which are scheduled to be built in the next 25 years come into operation, their lifetime CO2 emissions would be equal to those of all coal-burning activities since the beginning of industrialisation.

The good news is that if this is not the sort of thing you want your bank to be funding, there are other options. The Move Your Money website provides information on a wide range of alternative and more ethical financial providers, from well known names like Nationwide and the Co-operative Bank through to local credit unions and community development finance institutions.

They explain “Move Your Money isn’t about ‘bringing down’ the big banks (they can do that just fine by themselves, thankyou). This is about strengthening the alternatives and creating a more diverse system that works in the interest of wider society.”

What else can I do?

Moving your own money into a more ethical institution is a great start.  But what can we do to ensure that all banks behave more responsibly? How can we avoid future banking crises for which ordinary people have to pick up the tab?  How do we get banks supporting real local economies, instead of pumping money into

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speculative bubbles and environmentally destructive industries?

These are questions that economists and campaigners from across the UK will be gathering in Edinburgh to address at the Just Banking conference on April 19th and 20th.

Come and be part of the discussion.  Tickets are going fast so book now: www.justbanking.org.uk