As nature-lovers, we venture out armed with reusable drink bottles and natural fibre hiking gear, confident we’re doing our bit to protect what we love. But could our money be accidentally funding the fossil fuel industry without our knowledge? Eva explains how impactful our choice of bank can be on our climate.

I have a bamboo straw so I’m sustainable, right?

Protecting and appreciating nature was at the forefront of my upbringing since day one. My first word was ‘birds’, most of my clothes were homemade or second-hand, and our family was always out picnicking or hiking. So naturally, I considered myself an eco-friendly gal.


We out here! | Supplied by @evadavisboermans


Even once I left home, I always avoided fast fashion, bottled water, and disposable coffee cups, and at uni I volunteered and campaigned for climate organisations. Caring for the planet was pretty central to who I was.

So you can imagine my horror when I realised I was potentially and unwittingly investing my savings in the fossil fuel industry because of my choice of bank. While I was out there trying to save the world and keep it clean with my everyday actions, a large chunk of my money was potentially dirty. The worst part is, I had zero clue this was going on. 

What’s dirty money?

As outdoor adventurers, we know that being dirty isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But I’m not talking about ‘I’ve just walked around my campsite barefoot all day’ dirty, I’m talking about the ‘financing polluting fossil fuels’ kind of dirty.

If you’re thinking ‘How on earth could I invest in fossil fuels without actually knowing it?’ you’re probably not alone. So let’s rewind and explain what ‘dirty money’ actually is. 

The reality is, money in your bank account doesn’t just sit there idly. Your bank uses it to loan or invest in other businesses and projects. Depending on which bank you’re with, some of that money may be loaned to the fossil fuel industry for coal, oil, and gas projects. 

You’d be surprised how many banks in Australia invest money in fossil fuels. The biggest and most popular banks are often the culprits. 

If you had no clue, don’t stress, most people don’t.

And it’s not just the savings you’ve got in the bank that’s going to these companies. According to a study by Market Forces, since the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement in December 2015, the Big Four Banks in Australia have continued to loan money to coal, oil, and gas companies to the sum of over $44.4 billion by the end of 2020.

All of these loans to 37 new or expanding fossil fuel projects despite all four banks committing to the Paris Climate Agreement of net-zero emissions by 2050.

These 37 projects alone are expected to emit over 10 billion tonnes of CO2 over their lifetimes, enough to cancel out any gains made by Australia’s emissions reduction target 114 times over.

And your money is helping this happen.

How do I know if my money is clean or dirty?

In the age of the internet, it’s actually really easy to get clarity on whether or not your bank invests money in fossil fuel projects.

The simplest and quickest way is to visit the Market Forces website and look up your banking institution. Market Forces is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to increase transparency and hold institutions that are financing environmentally destructive projects accountable.

They do the hard work for you by compiling all the information they’ve gathered about which banks invest in fossil fuels and which banks don’t. It’s compiled in a handy table that’s updated regularly so you can keep tabs on what your bank is up to.

So how do I clean my money?

The good news is there are banks out there that do care about the future of the planet and actively align their values with their customers and investments. Not only do they avoid investing in fossil fuels, they intentionally invest in good stuff instead. This makes moving away from dirty money a whole lot more straightforward. 

You can clean up your money by moving it from a bank that invests in fossil fuels to a bank that doesn’t. This process is called divesting, and is a central part of the clean money movement that’s been picking up momentum over the last decade. 

Divesting is a really powerful way to lessen your impact on the planet, send a message to big business and fossil fuel industries, and helps invest in projects and businesses that are going to help our world instead! 

Bank Australia is one of the banks leading the way in Australia. It’s a fellow certified B Corporation that actively avoids investing in fossil fuels and other harmful industries and focuses on investing in a clean energy transition, lending for inclusive and community housing, and grants for not-for-profit organisations. 

It’s also owned by customers instead of shareholders, which means customers get a say in how the business is run and where the money’s invested. Plus it’s the only bank in the world to have a conservation reserve, home to 225 native plants and 234 native animal species. How cool!

Let’s go Through This Step by Step

Does your bank invest in fossil fuels? Well don’t wait another minute, it’s easy and simple to make the switch today!

  1. Choose a planet-friendly bank that suits you – Bank Australia is our top pick!
  2. Set up an account with your new bank – this can be done quickly and easily online or in a branch
  3. Switch transactions like wages and bills from your old bank over to your new account
  4. Close your old bank account – this is your chance to explain to your old bank that you’re leaving because of its planet-threatening investments! The more customers that make it clear they don’t want a part in fossil fuel investments, the sooner the bank will change its policy. 
  5. Want to do more? Think about where else your money lives. Your superannuation and shares may also be investing in fossil fuels too!

Then once you’ve switched – it’s done! You can go back to hiking those mountains, kayaking those rovers and surfing those waves with the knowledge that your money is being used to help preserve those very things, not destroy them. 

But changing banks takes ages, right?

Signing up to Bank Australia normally takes about five minutes, and you even get a digital version of your card that you can add to your phone straight away, so you won’t have to wait to start spending your new clean money.

As far as actions for the planet go, joining an ethical bank is one of the easiest ways to have the greatest impact as an individual – you only have to do it once to make a lifetime of difference! 


Divesting your money from fossil fuels is an incredibly powerful way to act on climate change. In a single action you’re helping cut funding to the fossil fuel industry, putting pressure on big banks to stop funding coal and gas, and using your money to invest in ongoing good across the course of your life.  

So before you head out on your next adventure, head over to Bank Australia to check out all the awesome stuff they’re doing to help preserve the planet we love to explore!


Photos thanks to @thetantrap