SwitchIt: Can A New Switching Service Help Green Your Finances?
A new nonprofit online tool claims it will help people transfer money from businesses it deems harmful to the environment to greener businesses in just 10 minutes.
SwitchIt allows customers to swap their bank and energy supplier from what it sees as funding fossil fuels to companies it sees as environmentally friendly.
Led by a team of “concerned professionals,” he believes people are tired of waiting for government and business to act on climate change.
Scheduled to be officially launched next week, the website claims the small-scale testing has proven to be successful, with lifetime deposits estimated at £ 170million being diverted from ‘polluting suppliers’.
Online Tool: SwitchIt Helps Users Shift From Fossil Fuel Funding Companies To ‘Greener’ Businesses
Founders Sophie Cowen and Anna Chirico are aiming high, hoping to drive billions away from these suppliers by the end of 2022.
They calculated that the average lifetime deposits in a bank account are £ 1million – based on an average salary of £ 27,000 – so suggest that a permanent change could have a big impact on the climate. .
Triodos, Nationwide, Co-op Bank are partners in the initiative although the project is independently funded.
How it works?
While the SwitchIt website is already running, the founders say it is in a beta form and the version will be different in appearance and functionality with additional features.
It will contain data for UK and US and a comparison table to give users a better understanding of recommended providers.
When launching the new website, consumers can enter their bank or energy supplier in the search bar. It will soon also allow clients to analyze their retirement business.
This in turn will reveal whether the site considers a product to be great, good, substandard, or terrible.
If a supplier is judged to be bad or below standard, the site will offer more information on why this is the case.
Once SwitchIt provides this information, customers will also be able to see a list of alternatives that the site says are better suited to the environment.
Users can then click on the links that will take them to the websites of other providers where they can then switch if they wish.
There is also the option to ‘commit to quitting’, which in turn sends a link to Facebook or Twitter, with the user publicly revealing that they will change providers on a certain date.
Clients can also donate to the project to keep it funded with the website currently supported by Climate 2025, a company launched in April 2020 with the aim of providing infrastructure and capacity building support to emerging movements.
It is also working on other areas such as savings and insurance so that users can also compare the ecological credentials of the latter in the future.
“My conscience is clear”: a SwitchIt user who changed banks after 48 years
New needlewoman Cara, 66, is a retired film PR and has used the same Main Street bank for 45 years.
“I had been in the bank for 48 years and was very attached to our small local branch, so the idea of changing banks was more than a little intimidating.
“After doing some research and spending time on the SwitchIt site, I chose Triodos as my bank for me and the whole process went really well.
“It was a bit of a pain to leave my old bank, but my conscience is now very clear and I feel good that my money is doing all the good things rather than all the bad.”
Whether a business is green or not is based on a number of different data sources, according to SwitchIt
How did SwitchIt determine which companies were green?
To decide on the “right” for a business, SwitchIt used data from a variety of sources.
For example, to achieve recommendations from energy providers, he used 2019 data from electriciteinfo.org to rank companies based on their use of renewable energy. He also asked three questions:
· What proportion of their electricity supply comes from renewable energy?
· How do energy suppliers source their renewable energy?
· Do they provide green gas or do they offset the gas they sell?
The greenest companies, awarded 4 or 5 stars have the following characteristics:
· A high proportion of the electricity they sell, often 100 percent, is classified as renewable, eg wind, solar, hydro.
· A significant proportion of the renewable energy they provide, often over 40 percent, will come from direct agreements they have with renewable energy producers. These agreements are known as PPA. SwitchIt believes that energy providers that have a direct relationship with producers, i.e. owners of wind farms, are more effective in driving the growth of renewables.
· The gas they sell to consumers will either be renewable gas or carbon offsets.
And the energy crisis?
The current energy crisis, resulting from the surge in wholesale gas prices, has led several suppliers to collapse in recent times and others are expected to go bankrupt.
Energy prices have increased rapidly, with households now more likely to get better value for money on a standard variable tariff as opposed to a fixed offer which was generally much better bang for the buck.
This has big implications for some of the new players in the green energy arena, which have grown rapidly and may have taken on too much debt to survive in the current climate.
However, SwitchIt said its research covered all energy companies in the UK and US, from large companies with green tariffs to smaller green specialists.
This means that users will still be able to see a wide variety of vendors on the website, which will continue to be promoted as “greener” alternatives.
For bank recommendations, SwitchIt analyzed data from Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack and Sierra Club.
Each of the major UK-based retail banks has been given a green rating based on whether or a parent company still invests in fossil fuel related businesses.
Recommended suppliers have a clear policy of not investing in fossil fuels.
When pensions are introduced, they will be analyzed according to three key criteria:
· Exposure to fossil fuels: how much money is invested in fossil fuel companies.
· Decarbonization rate: to what extent are pension funds committed to decarbonizing their investment portfolios.
· Green investments: to what extent are funds channeled towards green investments, ie renewable energies.
The greenest funds are those which have already significantly started to decarbonize their portfolios and have clearly defined short and medium term objectives to continue the process.
They will also have made clear commitments to green investments and transfer funds to green assets.
In addition, for each of the recommended vendors, it assessed a series of other criteria, including investment in green industries and business banking.
Green: SwitchIt calls financial products great, good, substandard, or terrible
Why is it important to change supplier?
Since the Paris agreement, SwitchIt said 35 banks have invested $ 2.7 trillion in fossil fuels.
He added that research found that investing money in organizations that do not invest in fossil fuels could reduce the carbon footprint by up to 27 times more than going vegan, reducing theft and switch to public transport.
Sophie Cowen, co-founder of Switchit, worked in advertising before deciding to develop a tool that would help people take action in their own lives.
She said: “I have seen so many people feel overwhelmed and powerless to do anything about the climate crisis. It is a frustrating and frightening experience.
“Most people don’t know that banks and energy companies use their customers’ money to put them and their children’s future at risk.
“SwitchIt offers individuals a simple and meaningful way to take action for positive change. An average person is likely to deposit at least £ 1million in their bank in their lifetime.
“It’s a lot of money and everyone should be able to choose whether this money helps protect their future and that of their children. We’re here to help them do it.
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