‘Move your money, or we do’: Belgian banks pressured to divest from fossil fuels

Account-holders of Belgium’s four biggest banks have pledged to drop their accounts there unless the banks adopt more sustainable investing and financing policies, by signing an online petition which has so far gathered over 10,000 signatures.

The petition called “Move your money, or we do,” specifically targets the country’s four biggest financial institutions —Belfius, BNP Paribas Fortis, ING and KBC—, handing them an ultimatum to better align their investment policies with the Paris Climate Agreement by June— or watch clients, and their money, walk out the door.

The petition asks banks to make no new investments in companies seeking to exploit fossil or coal reserves and that cannot demonstrate their business plan respects the climate accord.

It also asks that they phase out companies who do not respect these conditions and that they make the switch to more sustainable alternatives.

“If our bank does not adopt these resolutions by May 2019, we will commit ourselves to redirecting our money towards a more forward-looking and sustainable bank,” the petition reads.

Move Your Money is an initiative of financial accountability organisations FairFin and Hart Boven Hard, promoted alongside environmental and sustainability organisations such as Greenpeace and D’Urgent.

The petition cites a study by the Climate Coalition, which in 2017 found that the four Belgian banks had together invested €33 billion in the fossil fuel industry between 2014 and 2016.

As the window to make the move towards sustainable investing policies closes, representatives of Move your Money told Belgian media that while KBC was the bank that “took our campaign the most seriously,” it had taken “no steps to divest” from the aforementioned companies.

The initiative, still collecting signatures, encourages account-holders to make the move from June 6 to 20.

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