- Thanks, Lucia. For this first season of Which? Investigates, I've had a pretty simple mission-- wade through the countless claims of sustainability that we all see and hear and figure out if they really do reduce our environmental footprint, or whether they're simply green washing, hiding their real impact behind a thin veneer of supposed eco friendliness. I've been chatting with experts and digging into the evidence to discover whether the likes of sustainable travel or farming really exist and whether going plant-based or plastic-free or switching to an electric car genuinely has the positive impact on the planet we've all heard so much about.

This is the final investigation in our sustainability-focused first season. And when we were deciding what deserves that last spot on the episode line up, the list included the impact and alternatives of fast fashion, a look into sustainable fishing, and the real climate impact of our fascination with space. Yes, Branson and Bezos, we're looking at you.

But then we caught up with our sister team, who make the Which? Money Podcast and they mentioned something. Something shocking that may mean that if you do choose to eat less meat to cut your food footprint or drive an EV to reduce your travel emissions or pick products that don't contribute to deforestation, the eco effects of any of those could be completely undone by something you may not have considered-- your money.

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Independent research commissioned by Clim8, a climate friendly investment platform, has found that despite climate change ranking as a top concern for many people, 2/3 actually invest their money into accounts that could be funding fossil fuel companies. And what's worse, they probably don't even realise that's what they're doing.

A recent Which? survey of over 1,000 members found that only 3 in 10 knew how to find out what industries their savings provider invests in. So do you know the effect your cash is having? What the bank or pension provider or investment fund is doing with your hard earned dollar? I'm Greg Foot and today's Which? investigation asks, "Could your money be causing climate change?"

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Coming up, I'm stunned by the reality of how our money's impact could fly in the face of our other environmental or ethical choices.

- We have scientists who are invested in cigarettes and tobacco farms even though they may spend most of their days trying to tackle the diseases that are caused by cigarettes and tobacco. You have 3 and 1/2 million vegans in the UK, the majority of whom will find themselves invested in the meat industry or in factory farming. And you have protesters, climate campaigners, who will be invested in the very fossil fuel companies who they are protesting against.

- I discovered that there simply isn't an easy way to find out what investments are sustainable or not.

- Without clear labels for this, it's difficult to corral organisations because they could say, well, as a matter of perspective, I think investors and savers with savings accounts need to treat this as slightly the Wild West. There are still fortunes to be made but you need to be careful and do your research.

- And I hear from one expert quite what that could mean for the finance industry.

- Does this open the door for potential greenwashing for people using these terms in a way because it's not being regulated?

- Yes, and we think it might be the next big financial services scandal.

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- Now, given what we're investigating on this week's episode, who better to join forces with than the Which? Money Podcast team, who cover all things finance every single week. I recently saw that data from the Office for National Statistics suggest the median household savings-- that's the money in bank accounts, ISAs, stocks, and shares but not property. Those savings sit at around 11,000 pounds. But what could we do with those savings? Where could we put them? Well, I'm going to pass the mic to Lucia Ariano, the host of the Which? Money Podcast, to tell us more.

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- Thank you, Greg. Now, to the question of what you do with your money, it's not an easy one to answer, perhaps, especially while interest rates are still pitifully low. And depending on how much disposable income you have, the question of where to put your money can be ever more difficult and complex.

- I'm Olivia Bowen and I'm a partner and financial advisor at Castlefield.

- Castlefield refers to itself as "The Thoughtful Investor," something Greg is going to get to the bottom of later on. But for now, let's start thinking about how you can invest from the ground up.

- So the first step is to have some savings in the bank or building society as an emergency fund in case you need that money for short-term needs.

- Depending on your income, you might only have money in one of these accounts. And if after saving into your emergency fund you have more to hand, you have a few key options.

- When you've got that bedrock, then it's a case of saying, OK, well, now I can invest for the longer term. So you would do that through, for example, an investment ISA, which is a tax-free fund.

- And then there's that something else we should all aim to be saving towards.

- Or you could do it into a pension, of course, which has slightly different tax benefits, but you can't get at it until you're older. And then you might have some debt from a mortgage, for example, that would run alongside your investments. So it's a balancing act of debt and savings.

- So thinking beyond savings and into investments, why would you choose to put your money into an investment fund over a savings account?

- So savings is money that's in the bank or building society. So often, it's very easy to access and it will earn a very low interest rate, at the moment anyway, because interest rates are very low. So you're not investing.

You will get a declared rate of interest each year and typically it would be low, and inflation will eat away at the savings that you have. And that's really why people invest, is because they want to make sure that over the long-term their money grows by more than inflation. Otherwise, it loses its real value over time.

- Put simply, investment is when you put money in, you invest in a company. And if that company does well, you get a small portion of that back. So for supporting the company, you get a return on your investment, or at least you hope do.

As Olivia says, investing could give you the best opportunity for return. More than you'd get from the meagre interest on a savings account or cash ISA. But investments are riskier because the company you invest your money in may increase in value or it may not. Back to you, Greg.

- Cheers, Lucia. And thanks, Olivia too. Plenty more from both of them later in the episode. So you could save your money in a bank account or you could put it into investments or a pension in the hope of getting a good return. But the big question for this week's investigation is, what your money could be used for while it's there?

- I'm Sam Richardson. I'm the Deputy Editor of Which? Money.

- You'd be forgiven for thinking if you have, say, a savings account, then your money simply goes into the bank, and that's where it stays, lovingly tucked away somehow increasing very slowly in value.

- You know, when you put money into a bank account, it's probably not actually sitting there unless you've got a deposit box or some sort of vault. It'll be invested into businesses being used for real world activities.

- And this is the thing, the money you put in the bank, just as with the money you put into investments, it doesn't just sit there. It gets invested. The bank or ISA or pension provider could put your money into companies, government bonds, or a host of other investments, hoping to get a good return back.

And the money that goes into companies' pockets, well, they can use that however they like-- to help them fund research or staff or equipment or for them to invest into another company. And that could be great if the bank is investing in a company whose work you respect, that aligns with your morals, et cetera. But as Sam says--

- You should know where that money is going. It could be going into fossil fuels, could be going into arms, could be going into gambling. Not that you necessarily have issues with these things, but at least you'll know.

- In fact, according to a 2020 report from Rainforest Action Network and five other nonprofits, since the Paris Agreement on climate change was adopted at the end of 2015, 35 of the world's major banks have provided $2.7 trillion worth of investment to fossil fuel companies. Almost $3 trillion of investment to companies producing the very emissions that are continuing and advancing the rapid climate change being seen around the planet, devastating biodiversity, and threatening our homes and lives too. So could the money in your bank account or in your investments or pension be part of that investment in fossil fuels?

- Unfortunately, this is where it gets a little complicated. Your bank's website is probably a good place to start. They'll probably have a section on environmental impact. Sadly, very few actually disclose exactly what companies are being invested in.

- In which case, yes, your savings could, without your knowledge or permission, be going into fossil fuels. Or, as Sam just said, the arms trade or a gambling company.

- There are savings in current account providers with established kind of ethical and environmental track records. So Triodos Bank is a long-established ethical retirement provider. What's great about them is they do disclose all their organisations they're lending to on their website. You can go and have a browse.

The Co-operative Bank, who's a very long-established ethical policy dating from the '90s. In general, building societies are useful for ethically-minded savers because they're much more limited in where they can put their money, and most of it has to be in residential property.

- But what if you can't see on your bank's website or from further research where it's investing your money? Well, then you basically have two options-- either you're cool with that and you leave your money there, or you move it to a different bank where you can get that information. It's a similar situation with investments and pension providers too. But this is where it gets interesting.

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It's time to look at what are the greener investment and pension options you have. I'm going to start broad to understand what they are and what they're claiming. But I just want to tease you with this.

- You can cut your carbon 21 times more than going veggie, giving up flying, and switching energy provider, simply by making your pension green.

- I'm going to speak to the person who made that claim about pensions later on to see where that incredible figure comes from. But first, yes, the broad picture. Back to Olivia then, who is encouraged by the increased interest she's seen in more sustainable and responsible ways of investing.

- What's been wonderful over the last year or so is to see our industry really embrace ethical investing in a way that it just hasn't before. So I used to go to events and people would go-- when I'd say what I did and, you know, I'd be quite patronised and oh, there, there, dear. And now people go, oh, right, so you're-- oh, you're an ethical investment specialist, right. And they ask me questions about it.

- If you've got money you'd like to invest or add to your pension, you could pick investments yourself, or you could turn to an independent financial advisor such as Olivia to do the hard work for you. Although I should mention they usually charge a fee for that service. As you've just heard though, more and more investors and savers are keen to ensure their money goes somewhere where it can do good, or at least do no bad.

According to a report released by US-based investment firm Morningstar, $120 billion euros was invested in so-called sustainable funds in just the first quarter of 2021 alone. That's 18% higher than it was the previous quarter, and it represents more than half of cash invested into European-based funds. That is quite some increase.

But hang on, Olivia used the term "ethical investment." The Morningstar report there refers to sustainable funds. I mentioned green investments earlier. What do these terms actually mean? Are they all just the same thing? Here's Sam again.

- Unfortunately, the meanings are quite convoluted and confused. I tend to use ethical investing as a catchall term for everything, where you're not just thinking about the return about the profit. You're also taking into account other factors.

But obviously, those other factors could be vast. I think you do need to dig a little deeper to see if a fund calls itself say, "sustainable." That to me, makes you think well, the environment, do they have policies prohibiting say, yeah, their investment in fossil fuels.

- OK. So a sustainable investment, I can understand. In the context we've used it throughout the first season of the podcast, it's something, or some way, that can sustain, can continue, as it is in the same way without negatively impacting further on the planet. Ethical, to me, that means more about yes, ethics, but also morality, ensuring that people are paid fairly, that they have workers rights, living rights. So I interpret ethical investment as meaning that the companies you invest in would tick all those ethical boxes, potentially alongside the sustainable ones too.

- ESG is a term you're going to run into a lot. That's Environmental, Social, and Governance factors. And again, you know, those three words might be a little more useful, but it does cover a very broad area.

- Oh, yeah, there are plenty more of these. We could play buzzword bingo this episode, I tell you. There's also SRI, sustainable and responsible investment. There's impact investing. Some mentioned sustainable investing is a term used a lot. And then there's also the title that Olivia's firm uses--

- Castlefield are a firm of, we call it "Thoughtful Investing" specialists.

- And why "thoughtful" then, over, say, ethical.

- What we found is that-- I think a lot of our clients still use the phrase "ethical" as a catchall. We did a survey recently. We realised that some people don't identify themselves as necessarily ethical consumers, or ethical. So it can polarise people.

- So I need to make a decision about which of these we're going to use throughout the episode. Ethical, it sounds like can put people off. ESG and SRI, not a fan of acronyms. So I'm going to go with sustainable, as I defined it before.

And it's what we're all about on the podcast so that makes sense to me. Although these very definitions are something we're going to be coming back to later as I explore our old friend, greenwashing. And in fact possibly the biggest case of greenwashing we have had all season. First though, back to Lucia for a fascinating stroll through the history of sustainable investing.

- To begin with, we're heading back to the 18th century.

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Back then-- we're talking 300 years ago-- Quakers and Methodists both laid out clear guidelines to followers over the types of companies they should invest in. And they weren't alone. Other religious groups did the same. Typically believers were encouraged not to invest in the slave trade, smuggling, also companies manufacturing liquor or tobacco products, or promoting gambling. Already you can see parallels with some of the ethical concerns of today.

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Fast forward now to the 1960s, when the world's eyes were focused on the Vietnam War.

- The Foreign Office said today it was urgently considering proposals to allow some South Vietnamese refugees to settle in Britain. Although no decision has yet been taken, the home secretary, Mr. Jenkins, and the Foreign Office officials are studying the question.

- Back then, questions around investment reflected the social issues of the day, not too dissimilar to the Quakers and Methodist centuries before. Those also arise in Sharia-compliant banks. They operate within Islamic religious laws and include rules, which mean investors can't invest in companies involved in gambling, pornography, alcohol, or tobacco.

And as years went on and the fund management industry grew, activists recognised the opportunity that shareholders had to influence these big companies and what they chose to do with their money. Between the 1970s and '90s, for instance, investors put pressure on fund managers to avoid investing in companies operating in South Africa, with many claiming this was a key factor that helped end apartheid.

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- In the '80s, too, there was a global awakening to climate change, with some of the biggest industrial disasters the world has ever seen. The Bhopal gas leak and the oil spill of Exxon Valdez, causing serious environmental concerns. And the financing of chemical and oil companies took a hit as a result.

Recently, even the Church of England, which manages a fund worth $9.2 billion, made headlines agreeing to divest from fossil fuel companies not aligned with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement by 2023. So amid the heat waves, floods, and wildfires of today, the awakening to the threat of climate change continues, and so too does the somewhat elusive goal for ethical investors.

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- Thanks, Lucia. And thank you to James Lundberg as well, whose research helped inform that skip through time. So if you're listening to this, you're feeling empowered, ready, and willing to change the world with your money. What next?

- So there's a lot of sustainable investment options depending on how confident and knowledgeable you are. And if you're really confident, you could pick the exact companies you want to invest in. This will take a lot of time and a lot of research so it's definitely not for everyone. But that's the way you could get complete control over where your money's going.

- If you don't have the time to really research individual companies, though, you can turn to an investment firm, who can find you companies to invest in, funds that align with your ethics and beliefs. But there's a big issue here. And it's one we simply can't ignore.

- What you do find-- because the companies that we invest in are so enormous, they often have many different facets to them. So it's very rare to get a pure play company. Smaller companies will do. That, they'll just be pure play renewable energy, for example, lovely, easy.

But the bigger companies will have many different sub companies. And what we've done as an industry from the word go, really, has been to say, as long as the turnover or the profits or however you want to determine it, is less than 10% from pornography or tobacco or oil or whatever it is, then that's OK.

- Is it OK though? I mean, this means that so-called sustainable funds might not be 100% sustainable, or indeed 100% ethical, at all. And this is what I think is the biggest case of greenwashing I found all season. These funds have to follow rules to prove they're sustainable or ethical credentials, rules set by the EU sustainable finance disclosure regulation.

It was only set up recently, and this year it made a shocking announcement-- 8 in 10 of the so-called sustainable funds based in Europe were found to be investing in fossil fuels. 80%. They found a way to get around this and they label themselves as light green funds, the classification that the EU brought in earlier this year as part of their new legislation.

It turns out, it's not a case of being green or not green anymore. There's a spectrum-- non-green means not ethical at all. Light green means largely investing in climate positive companies, i.e. not fully. And dark green, that's the most environmentally-friendly of them all, only offering financial products that claim to have sustainable investment as their main objective. So yes, a light green fund, as Olivia just admitted, means a so-called sustainable fund that does invest in fossil fuels, which doesn't, to me, seem to warrant the use of the word green at all, no matter what blooming shade it is.

- Green is probably the most overused word of them all. There's not really that much control over the labelling of funds. Increasingly, the Financial Conduct Authority, the regulator, is looking at this, but I think we're still a year or two off to having a label to what a sustainable fund actually is.

- While the EU's new rules have, in part, forced investment firms to unmask and to reveal the ultimate destination for our money, there is clearly a long way to go. I mean, this is a situation where green can be used for something that isn't green. Oh, it's light green so that's fine. Sure.

And most importantly in all this, while UK funds that sell products to the EU have to follow these rules, there is still no UK legal requirement to share this information with would be investors. As one expert was quoted as saying after the announcement from the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation--

- "As long as there are no hard legal requirements, the industry simply has a new reporting standard-- nothing more. There's a hell of a lot of noise, but very little action beneath the surface."

- Without clear rules and labels, it's difficult to call out organisations because they could say, well, as a matter of perspective, yes, you know, 90% of our funds isn't ESG at all, but we're really closely monitoring the remaining 10% of it. Until those agreed rules, I think investors and savers with savings accounts need to treat this as slightly the Wild West. There are still fortunes to be made, but you need to be careful and do your research.

- Ultimately, it's on us to do as much research as we can or to seek help from an independent financial advisor. We all know that there's risk in investing. Your money can go up or down in line with the markets. But now you're adding the moral and ethical risk that you've chosen a sustainable account and can't necessarily guarantee that it is 100% that.

Here is an example from last year. The environmental group, Amazon Watch and the association for Brazil's Indigenous Peoples, found six top investment firms had invested more than $18 billion over the past three years in firms carrying out projects which irreversibly damaged the world's biggest rainforest. Six top investment firms. $18 billion. And all of these firms host their own green funds. And that in a nutshell, is the issue that we're up against.

- Does this open the door for potential greenwashing for people using these terms, in a way, because it's not being regulated?

- Yes, and we think it might be the next big financial services scandal, and we're worried it'll just give a bad name to ethical investing.

- The next financial services scandal. Yeah.

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So this is the harsh reality of where the investigation has led me so far.

- We have scientists who are invested in cigarettes and tobacco farms even though they may spend most of their days trying to tackle the diseases that are caused by cigarettes and tobacco. You have 3 and 1/2 million vegans in the UK, the majority of whom will find themselves invested in the meat industry or in factory farming. And you have protesters, climate campaigners, who will be invested in the very fossil fuel companies who they are protesting against.

- These are examples of the accidental hypocrisy that can be happening because of where our money ends up, without our knowledge, potentially undoing any well-intended impact that we're making elsewhere in our life.

- I'm David Hayman. I'm the Campaign Director at Make My Money Matter.

- Make My Money Matter are a campaign group who-- well, you can probably guess from the name-- they work to educate people about the power of their money to do good. I asked David to comment on Olivia's claims that the mislabeling of ethical or sustainable or green funds could be the next financial scandal.

- I'd agree, entirely. The absence of full data around an organisation's activities on various different measures and the lack of consistency makes it hard to measure. And you end up with everyone claiming everything sustainable.

- I promised I'd return to pensions and that huge claim around them that I told you earlier, and it's time to do just that. Pensions are, in effect, investments. We pay money into them throughout our lives. And a lot of that money is then invested into the stock market with the hope of building up a nice manageable sum to take out when you retire later in life.

In 2019, the Investment Association found $2.6 trillion pounds was held in UK pension funds. And that's a lot of money that while it's being invested before retirement could be doing a lot of good.

- Pensions are relevant to all of us. Because of auto enrollment, anyone who's worked, I think, over a certain wage, over a certain time, will have a pension somewhere. And the likelihood is it's not in an explicitly ethical pension. It's not got controls I would invest in, and it's worth finding out.

- Some pension firms are trying to make their pensions more sustainable, but they're starting from a very low base. Back in 2018, ShareAction did a piece of research to see how much good that pension pot was doing. They found that less than 1% of assets in the world's largest 100 pension funds were invested in low carbon solutions. Less than 1% in low carbon solutions. [fake screaming]

Furthermore, they found that only 15% of the world's largest 100 pension funds had a policy to exclude fossil fuels in some way from their investments. And 65% had no formal climate policy at all. And the same issues around lack of transparency remain today.

- You have the right to know where it's going, what it's up to, and what kind of impact it's having. It's not an outrageous request. It's not unreasonable in any way, shape, or form. We think people should be able to call up their providers, ask where their money's invested.

And oftentimes it's invested in thousands of companies, so being able to even get the top 10, the top 100 companies you're invested in, is a really important start. And getting that data, again, that information, then lets you be able to take a more proactive, deliberate choice about where your money goes.

- OK, so what about that claim about how much impact a green pension can have?

- Cut your carbon 21 times more than going veggie giving up flying and switching energy provider simply by making your pension green.

- It's actually from the Make My Money Matter website. So with their campaign director on the line, I had to ask him where that figure came from.

- To kind of get to that figure, what we've done is we've looked at, firstly, the average carbon footprint of an individual in the UK using ONS statistics. We've then looked at the kind of carbon intensities of a default pension fund and a greener, cleaner pension fund. And then we've simply compared the two and showed how much carbon you may be saving by cutting back on flying or eating less meat, and compared that to how much you'd save by moving from a high carbon intensity fund to a lower carbon intensity fund.

- I discussed this in detail with the Which? Team and also read the summary report for the pension fund carbon savings research, which are linked to in the show notes alongside all the other references for this episode. From what I understand, that figure-- 21 times-- it comes from taking the difference in the emissions of 30k in a non-sustainable fund verse 30k in a sustainable fund and comparing that difference in emissions to the total emissions each year of switching to renewable electricity, taking trains instead of flights and changing to a vegetarian diet.

Because you don't spend 30k on meat or flights or petrol, whatever, each year though, that difference in emissions between the non-sustainable fund investments and the sustainable fund investments is going to give you a large multiple compared to your everyday emissions. But 21 times is a fair figure for a 30k pension.

For those with less money in pensions though, they may actually have more impact doing those individual switches, but that figure is useful for showing the big impact and the reach that money you do put into a pension could be having. And it underlines the fact that out of all the things we've spoken about on this series, making sure our money is invested in truly sustainable companies really could be the best thing we can do for the planet. But-- and I'm sorry because there is always a but--

- The basic argument is that by investing less into companies that extract fossil fuels, they'll find it harder to operate. Perhaps they'll reduce their operations, hence, taking less fossil fuels out of the ground. There is a counter argument to that that someone else will then invest in those companies. But I think ultimately, you know, it's your money. It's how you want to change the world.

- This is a tricky point. By choosing not to invest in a company which appears to be involved in practises that harm the planet, are we just opening the door for someone else to sweep on in, do that anyway, and reap the potential returns? A June 2020 paper entitled, "Can Sustainable Investing Save the World," concludes that when it comes to the positive environmental impact of sustainable and ethical investing, quote, "There remain gaps in the evidence," and that, quote, "Indirect impacts remain unproven regarding their effectiveness." They then go on to call for an easier way of tracking the difference that sustainable investing is making in helping us reach those climate change goals.

Once again, as with the current lack of concrete rules around the classification of these funds, it looks like the industry needs to catch up with what us investors want so that we know that we can ensure our money can harness its true potential and help fight climate change.

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- Now, in addition to the endless questions around the labelling of ethical funds, there is, of course, the one and only, the million pound question, and that's, can you make money doing it? Well, if the answer is no, then there's surely no way enough of us will embrace the shift and the potential environmental and societal benefits that come with it.

- In fact, sustainable investments did very well over the coronavirus pandemic because fossil fuels, the value of these commodities, kind of fell. So investment portfolios that didn't hold, say, oil, did extremely well and people have made a lot of money that.

- I believe you can make similar, or better, returns. The investment universe is absolutely vast. There's also a longer term argument used by proponents of say, ESG and F funds, the governments are increasingly looking to decarbonize to the extent of banning or limiting certain industries.

And if you can be getting your investments out of these industries earlier on, you won't be in trouble when, say, when we stop producing petrol cars and you're heavily invested in an engine manufacturer. The other argument is simply by looking you are getting on the bandwagon, as such, and you're getting on it earlier. It might be a slow burn but better to get on it early and reap the rewards forever long.

- So you could say that sustainable investing isn't a get rich quick scheme. And this is something that's recently made headlines. As reported in The Economist in March, the board of Danone, the French food maker behind the likes of Activia, Actimel, and Alpro fired its boss, Emmanuel Faber. Now, interestingly, he had long championed the benefits of sustainability and what's known as stakeholder capitalism, which is considered an ethical choice that values the interests of all stakeholders. So that's employees, local communities, and suppliers, among others, and isn't just about maximising profits.

But Danone shareholders were unhappy with its languishing share price and as such, Emmanuel Faber was ousted. However, as we just heard from Sam there, sustainable investments can give better returns. And last year, research from investment firm BlackRock found that during the pandemic, sustainable investment funds tended to outperform non-ethical options.

So why might this be? Well, it likely had something to do with the traditional industries being hit hard by the global shutdown. Take oil, for example, where the price fell due to the lack of demand from customers, including the airline industry.

- You'll find you have good funds and bad funds in terms of performance. But we've seen time and time again that responsible investing can outperform conventional investing. And I always say to people, if you invest ethically, responsibly, then you're future proofing your investments because a company that considers climate change as a reality and is bearing in mind the effect of climate change on itself, is going to do better a few years, hence, than a company that's ignoring the problem, one would imagine.

- As more countries move towards their aim to reach net zero emissions, it's only natural to expect the industries that will help them reach those targets will perform strongly. Plus, some advocates of ethical investing argue the extra analysis involved by such businesses or sectors results in better managed companies and so, higher performing funds.

- Thank you very much, Lucia, and the rest of the Which? Money Podcast team, of course, for helping out with today's investigations. I had a couple of questions for Olivia myself. The first being, do you have to be rich to invest sustainably and make money?

- So I started out with a 10 pound Friendly Society plan that went to a little With-Profits fund that didn't invest in tobacco, arms, or pornography. So it wasn't a deeply green fund but it had some light ethical screening. And I just saved 10 pounds a month for 10 years and then it pays out a lump sum after that time. That was my first ever savings plan.

- And here's the second question-- could it be argued it's just too difficult, it's just too messy at the moment, it's too unknown to ethically invest?

- I think there's a danger of that, of it being perceived that way. But really nothing much has changed. It's just become more popular. So I think if people are-- well, they should seek advice from somebody who's been doing this a long time.

But equally, if you're starting out, you may not have the means to employ a financial advisor, and so you will end up doing some of it yourself. Find a trusted voice and listen to them and start. Don't be put off.

I would suggest pick a fund manager that's got more than one ethical fund so you know it's not just tokenism. Ideally, with some track record, because otherwise they might just be very new to the market and again, just sort of jumping on the bandwagon.

- Thank you so much, Olivia. So could your money be causing climate change? Well, simple answer today-- yes. If you don't know how it's being used by your bank or your investments or your pension provider, then you just don't know what your money is supporting.

And even if it's labelled as sustainable, it's not guaranteed to be 100%, so. I still can't get over that green doesn't necessarily mean green, as you and I would likely assume it to mean. And now we know that light green actually means "may invest in some companies that are not climate positive," and even less than 10%, as we heard. That can still be a lot of money that is continuing to go towards industries that contribute to the warming of the planet and the destruction of ecosystems around the world.

We need more regulation. And until it arrives, it's on us to ask questions of our banks, of our investment providers, of anyone managing our money, in the hope that we can force change. And it turns out that to force change, we may need to encourage a shift in mindset too.

- We surveyed over 1,000 Which? members back in May, and we asked them a question-- would you be likely or unlikely to move your savings if you found out your provider was invested in industries that harm the environment, and 31% told us they were likely to move their money. Admittedly, 36% said they were unlikely, and the remainder was on the fence. A third of savers, in theory out there, that do care.

- That number needs to increase if we're going to see real, irreversible change in the industry. The best thing we can do is to take our money out of places that don't align with our personal values. I said earlier that if it isn't possible to move it to somewhere where it does good, at least move it to somewhere where it does no bad. Although perhaps a more realistic perspective now is move it somewhere that does less bad, and moving it will have an impact.

- I think it will drive the creation of new, better, cleaner, greener, more sustainable financial offerings for individuals, more tailored offerings. I think, ultimately, that will lead to more money flowing to the best businesses, not the worst. And supporting organisations who treat their staff well who operate sustainably.

- Money does change the world. If you're going to change the world, you want to make sure that the money is moving in the right direction and rewarding the good behaviours and not rewarding the bad behaviours. And because we have capitalism, shareholders should be responsible shareholders, not just chasing short-term profit. But thinking about which companies they're giving money to, and encouraging those companies to behave responsibly now and long into the future.

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- Some good news is that the UK government is planning to follow the EU's lead and tackle greenwashing in the investment sector. A green technical advisory group will oversee the government's delivery of a green taxonomy. In other words, a common framework setting the bar for investments that can be defined as environmentally sustainable. They'll also work with the Financial Conduct Authority to introduce a sustainable investment label for funds too. And we all agree, that can't come soon enough.

- I think what Which wants generally, other than to help consumers make sustainable choices is for that information to be useful to consumers and to help us really assess how sustainable these products are.

- There's loads more information and advice on our website. Just go to which.co.uk/ethicalinvesting. So do you know where your money is invested? Perhaps, after listening to this, you've been inspired to find out.

Do let me know what you've taken from today's investigation. And if you've got any thoughts or questions, get in touch. I'm @gregfoot on Twitter and Instagram and Which? is @WhichUK.

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- That pretty much wraps up our first season of Which? Investigates. If you enjoyed this podcast and you haven't listened to the other seven sustainability focused investigations, do go have a listen. I've had lots of lovely feedback from you about the series so far. So thank you so much for sending those over on social and a big thanks if you've left a rating and a review on Apple Podcast.

It sounds, as well, like lots of you enjoyed the midseason bonus episode that we did, where we shared longer sections from a few of the interviews that were done from the first half of the sustainability series. So we're going to do another of those for you-- an end of season bonus episode, and that'll be out next week.

We'll then be taking a short break but the good news is we're going to be back in the autumn with season two. And we would love to hear your ideas for topics to investigate further. You can reach me @gregfoot and Which? is @WhichUK.

Here, at Which?, we're making sustainability key to what we do, from how we assess the products and services we review to the way we run our whole organisation. And that's why this first season of Which? Investigates has been dedicated to helping you make the sustainable choices you've told us are so important.

We've got new reviews and advice every day on which.co.uk that will give you the power to make the best decisions for yourself and the planet. So why not sign up for our monthly sustainability bulletin that will bring you all that great content to your inbox. Just head to which.co.uk/greenemail.

Today's episode was presented by me, Greg Foot, and Lucia Ariano, written and produced by me and Rob Lilly, editing and original music is by Eric Bria, and our executive producer is Angus Farka. Special thanks go to Richard Hedlund, Michael Briggs, Emily Seymour, Yvette Fletcher, Karen Lawrence, and Sam Richardson. And I'll speak to you again soon.

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