KCLSU Champions Ethical Banking

The King’s College London Student Union (KCLSU) has become the first educational institution in the UK to openly move its money to ethical banks.

The Union moved its reserves from NatWest to Metro Bank, the latter scoring highest in ethical investments. In addition, up to a third of the total KCLSU reserves of £250,000 is now held with Triodos Bank, which exclusively invests in socially responsible loans and investments.

Triodos Bank N.V. is based in Netherlands and claims to be a pioneer in ethical banking. Its policy of screening businesses and charities excludes investments in nuclear energy, weapons, or environmentally hazardous substances. The bank lends its money to organic farms, arts initiatives, renewable energy and fair trade projects.

KCLSU’s move to ethical banking follows an Annual General Meeting (AGM) motion passed in 2015 that called for a switch to ethical banking as part of the Union’s pledge to fight climate change. Student campaigners Tobias Udsholt, Alberto Torres, and Dr. Tytus Murphy were at the forefront of the initiative.

“By taking these steps we’ve demonstrated that there is no contradiction between implementing ethical principles and remaining financially sound,” shared the campaigners.

“We hope this example is something universities and other Student Unions follow, as we believe such institutions can make a significant impact as first-movers on this issue.”

2015 AGM motion for moving to ethical banking (Source: KCLSU)

The National Union of Students (NUS) had previously threatened to stop banking with National Westminster Bank Plc (NatWest) for funding fossil fuel extraction programmes. NatWest, along with other big banks such as HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds have been fined for falling afoul of regulators and anti money-laundering rules. NatWest is also subsidiary to the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is the biggest lender to companies operating tar-sands extraction projects in Canada with up to $7.5 billion in investments.

The moving of KCLSU’s money to ethical banks is seen as a big step forward in the Union’s aspirations to be both environmentally sustainable and ethically sound. Speaking about the Union’s decision, Head of Business at Triodos Bank Rebecca Pritchard said, “This move is a good example of how grassroots pressure to use money as a force for positive change can be successful. We hope that other student unions and higher education institutions will consider following their lead.”