Blackadder author, Mr. Bean and Love Indeed, says he’s suddenly “obsessed” with climate change and pensions
I know this is strange – the author of Schwarzadder, MR Bean and Love actually suddenly obsessed with climate change and pensions. But I am not alone. Against the background of the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow – the most important climate talks of our generation – people of all stripes are now wondering what they can do to make a difference through their everyday actions.
And they find that answer in unexpected places. You can find it in the clothes they wear, the food they eat, and how they travel. You can find it in the products they buy, the brands they support, and the companies they work for.
But the next big revelation is that we can make a huge difference by looking at where we put our money. Surprisingly, it turns out for many – including me – that the money in our pensions is not in a safe vault and is slowly generating interest so that we can collect it in old age.
It is actually investing in companies around the world every day, for better and sadly for bad.
That means that through our annuities, we have likely become random investors in many of the things that we will struggle against for the rest of our lives.
Since we launched the Make My Money Matter campaign, we’ve heard from peace activists who have invested in weapons, doctors in tobacco, and environmentalists in coal, oil and deforestation.
In the short term, our money contradicts our values. More worryingly, in the long run, it undermines the viability of the future for which we are saving.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Our money can be an incredible force for good; Combating deforestation, combating inequality and combating climate change.
In fact, research we’ve done with Aviva and Route2 has shown that a greener pension is 21 times more effective at cutting your carbon footprint than giving up flying, becoming a vegetarian, and switching energy providers.
With the Cop26 just around the corner, 2021 will turn out to be the UK’s most important climate year to date.
We believe that pensions must be the focus. That’s why we’re calling on people across the country to harness the hidden superpower of their pensions to help build a better world. That’s our money – £ 2.6 trillion in UK pensions alone – and we believe we should be able to tell where it’s going.
Here are three simple steps anyone can take to make money and get their pension provider to act before COP26:
If you’re not satisfied, ask your provider to move you into a retirement that you can be proud of. Make My Money Matter has a handy template that you can send to your provider.
Many pensions are organized by employers. Ask your boss or your HR department where the company pension plan is invested and check whether it is in line with your sustainability plans. After all, what good is it if companies make brilliant climate commitments but then don’t use their strongest weapon – our pensions? Our template can also help here.
Money can be such a taboo subject. Research shows that we are ten times more likely to tell a complete stranger how many people we’ve slept with than what we deserve. So talk to your friends, family, and co-workers and see if their retirement plans create a world for retirement. It’s a particularly nice topic with colleagues, because five people in a company who ask questions about pensions are enough to initiate a change.
These things are simple but incredibly powerful. Since we launched Make My Money Matter, thousands of people have connected with their pension provider, hundreds of organizations have made their company pension greener, and many providers – representing 30 million pension pots and more than £ 750 billion – have signed up committed to robust net zero targets.
As this momentum grows, we redouble our efforts to ensure everyone has a pension to be proud of. If you act now you can make sure your pension is fighting the climate crisis and not starting the fire. It turns out that sustainable pensions are a golden ticket to creating a golden future for everyone.