Britons with assets of more than a million pounds who claim to be green are ignoring the need to invest sustainably, claims private bank Coutts.
According to a survey of 1,000 high net worth individuals, millionaires would prioritize recycling instead.
However, they would be better off making changes to their portfolio, which Coutts said would have a bigger impact on the planet.
UK pension funds are worth over £2.7 trillion, money which Coutts says could be used to invest in ethical and sustainable causes.
The bank said its survey showed how diligently wealthy people were separating plastic from paper and even flushing their toilets with their bath water.
In the past five years, 85 percent of respondents had not made any changes to their investment portfolio, even though doing so may be the best way to go green in their lifestyle.
However, 64 percent had recycled more household items and 60 percent were actively reducing the amount of single-use plastic in their homes.
When it comes to food, 40 percent are more likely to have bought ethical or locally produced food, while 33 percent have made their homes more energy efficient and 19 percent have opted for low-carbon transportation.
Leslie Gent, Head of Responsible Investing at Coutts, said: “We know from talking to our clients that they want to do their best for the planet and make big and often time-consuming changes in their lives.
“But our study shows that many of Britain’s millionaires don’t realize that they can make a much bigger difference to the planet with their investments and pensions than by sorting through their recycling.
“We are committed to educating our clients about the opportunities they have to make an impact through their investment decisions.
“We believe that companies that have a positive impact on the environment can also have a positive long-term financial impact on investment portfolios and want to ensure our clients are making the most of their money and know what impact it is having on the planet.
“We urge people to have a simple conversation with those who care about their money, starting with their annuity provider, about the impact their investments can and do have.”
How to invest ethically
Ms Gent said investors should ask themselves the following questions:
- Is my pension fund invested in a “responsible” pension fund?
- If yes, what does that mean? For example, how do they select companies that have a positive impact on people and the planet? Are there any activities they don’t invest in, such as thermal coal?
- How does the fund manager or annuity provider use their leverage for good? For example, do they engage with the companies they invest in to reduce their emissions, or do they have different boards?
- How have the green funds they offer performed compared to other pension funds and what do you expect from the long-term performance of these funds?
- What public commitments have you made as a pension fund/fund manager? For example, have they committed to net zero investment?
- Are you a member of networks/initiatives such as Climate Action 100+ or the Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance/Net Zero Asset Managers initiative? If so, how do they use these networks to improve their own ESG strategy?
- If I’m not happy with my current fund, what responsible or green funds do they offer and how can they demonstrate the environmental credentials of those funds?
Research from the Make My Money Matter campaign suggests that greener retirement will save 21 times more carbon than not flying, eating meat and switching to sustainable energy all at once.
Writer and director Richard Curtis, co-founder of Make My Money Matter said: “The biggest thing people can do to make a positive change is to verify that their pension is being invested ethically and sustainably.
“It’s a hugely effective way to bring about change – and it’s miraculously 21 times more effective than giving up meat, flying and switching energy suppliers.
“I would really say to people: do it tomorrow. You can then literally sit at your desk every day of the year knowing that your pension supports the best, most progressive and most climate-friendly companies – instead of investing indiscriminately in things you really don’t believe in.”