Do you know where your pension is being invested?

While we may imagine our pension is just sitting, waiting to help us in our retirement, that money is actively being invested every day. It’s vital to ensure it doesn’t end up in destructive industries and Make My Money Matter, a charity co-founded by Richard Curtis to raise awareness about the importance and impact of ethical pensions, is here to help.

Make My Money Matter is a people-powered campaign fighting for a world where we all know where our pension money goes, enabling us to demand it’s invested to build a better future. They’re committed to supercharging the power of our money, helping people unlock the trillions of pounds saved in pensions to build a just, sustainable future we’d all want to retire into.

Our pension investments can help achieve this not just through divesting from destructive industries, but also through financing initiatives that work to make people and planet better off. Here’s what you need to know.

The problem

Most standard pensions, like our bank accounts, invest money into violent and destructive industries such as weapons, deforestation projects, fossil fuels, tobacco and gambling. There is currently £2.6 trillion in UK pensions, and a lot of that money is actively contributing to these industries, including Amazon deforestation and new fossil fuel projects.

Pension funds have invested trillions on our behalf without stopping to think, what future world are these investments creating? After all, there’s no retirement on a dead planet.

Most people don’t know where their pensions are invested, and this murky use of our money means that climate activists could unwittingly be funding fossil fuels, ethical consumers investing in fast fashion, vegans investing in industrial agriculture. Our own activism could be inadvertently thwarted, using our own money.

But this isn’t the only option.

Make My Money Matter believe that people should know what their pensions are invested in, and that they should be able to align those investments to their values. Because this is our money, and it’s one of the most powerful tools we have to create change and build a better future.

21x more effective at cutting your carbon footprint

Make My Money Matter believe that switching to an ethical pension, and pressuring organisations to offer ethical pensions, is one of the best things we can do to create a healthier world. To find out more, they commissioned research specifically for this project.

It found that moving your money from a default pension to a sustainable fund can have 21x more impact than giving up flying, becoming vegetarian, and switching to a renewable energy provider COMBINED.

The study quantified the average UK individual carbon footprint, across age groups. It then quantified the carbon footprint reduction of switching from a default pension fund to a more sustainable option, and quantified the carbon footprint reduction of other behavioural adaptations, such as going vegan. For this study they used the Aviva Stewardship Fund as the sustainable option studied, and the carbon footprint of lifestyle factors was calculated based on UK ONS data.

The data they acquired found that switching a pension pot to a more climate-sensitive fund was, undoubtedly, the single most effective action an individual can take today, right now, to reduce carbon footprints.

Switching an average pension of £30,000 to a climate-sensitive fund was up to:

  • 20x more effective than switching to an electric car powered by renewable electricity
  • 40x more effective than switching to an electric car powered by conventional electricity
  • 40x more effective than switching to a renewable energy supplier
  • 57x more effective than adopting a vegan diet
  • 330x more effective than reducing your shower time by half
  • 21x more effective than giving up flying, becoming vegetarian and switching to a renewable energy provider COMBINED

In absolute terms, the carbon savings of moving to a sustainable fund was 0.64 Tonnes for every £1000 invested. Moving £30,000 saves 19.2 tonnes of carbon, and moving a £100,000 pension pot saves 64 tonnes (9 years worth of a UK citizen’s average carbon footprint).

Plus, if you assessed the impact of moving this money on an annual basis, a person’s individual pension contribution represents the second-highest single item that creates indirect emissions, showing how important pension selection is to lowering our carbon footprints. (This is based on an annual contribution of £468 (ONS), and would increase significantly if the study used the average contribution from HMRC of £2500!)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Francesca Willow (@ethicalunicorn)


The solution

Make My Money Matter is building a movement calling for the trillions of pounds invested in UK pensions to be redirected to protect our futures. Every organisation, whether it be a business, university or charity, should align their pensions with their values, ensuring pension funds put the planet, and therefore people, above all other priorities.

It’s up to the government and industry to drive this transition, through better investments and using the power of pensions to make sure companies transition to more sustainable practice. Through their leadership Make My Money Matter want to see the trillions invested by UK pensions to support a just transition to a zero-carbon world.

Our money can be invested in creating healthy societies, and some of it already is. For example: building wind farms, curing disease, making homes and driving innovation. We can demand that much more of our investments do this, divesting from exploitation and investing into clean energy, human rights, healthcare and green transport.

It’s not impossible, we just need to build pressure.

What they’re asking for

Make My Money Matter’s aims are simple:

  • All pension funds must tell savers how their money is invested, and what that means for people and planet. Pension funds must ask savers what’s important to them about how their money is invested, and explain how they’re taking these views into account.
  • All pension funds must be clear about how they’re taking environmental, social, and governance risks into account, especially climate risk. They must set out real plans to increase the positive impact their investments have for people and planet.
  • All pension funds must ensure their portfolios are consistent with the Paris Agreement, including at least halving emissions by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

What we can do

Sign the petition

Show your support for a world where pensions build a better future by signing the petition here.

Talk to your pension provider

Your provider probably looks after billions of pounds, paid in by people like you. It’s time to question where that money’s going and what it’s doing for world. 

Here’s an email you can send to your provider questioning what they’re doing to make sure your pension builds a better world.

Talk to your employer

Chances are, your employer doesn’t know the impact your company pension has, or that you care about it. It’s time to change that, and ask where your money’s going and what it’s invested in.

Here’s an email you can send to your HR or Finance department asking about your company pension.

Find out more

On the MMMM website here, and let’s build a better world together, starting today.