The dark truth about your retirement: New film reveals how UK savers are contributing to climate change

On Monday April 11, a ‘grassroots’ campaign launched a brand new film, aiming to raise awareness about savers’ pensions – and the surprising way they can help tackle the climate crisis.

Movement, Make my money countwas founded by British director Richard Curtis in partnership with former government special adviser Jo Corbett.

The new campaign, #DeliverTheTruth, features a short film directed by Curtis – generally known for directing romantic comedies such as ‘Love Actually’. He hopes to fight the companies responsible for “deforestation, environmental degradation and the threat to lives and livelihoods across the planet”.

Earlier this year, the campaign pays off that £2 (€2.40) out of £10 (€12.01) of an average British pension is linked to the destruction of forest areas around the world, often to make way for activities such as mining or urbanization.

Who is the money going to?

The report found that more than £300bn (€360bn) of UK pension fund investments are in companies and financial institutions at high risk of deforestation.

Businesses related to agriculture and food promote the felling of thousands of hectares of forest to provide land for raising cattle, manufacturing palm trees or growing cocoa. According to the campaign, this industry is responsible for 73% of deforestation in the world.

Infrastructure companies are also being criticized for clearing entire forests to make way for their construction. Oil and gas, as well as mining companies, also contribute massively to deforestation due to their supply chains.

The data collected in the report points the finger at sectors such as manufacturing, retail, as well as banking and insurance, and condemns industries that indirectly cause deforestation. He also blames tobacco, infrastructure and real estate for being the direct cause of the problem.

Who is impacted?

Although deforestation has a negative impact on the environment, the study also mentions the displacement of indigenous peoples and local communities due to the destruction of forest areas by humans. According to World witness data shared by Make My Money Matter, 2020 saw 227 fatal attacks on people defending their homes, lands and livelihoods.

The campaign also highlights the staggering impact of deforestation on biodiversity.

One of the most biodiverse places on the planet, the Amazon rainforest, is often the target of companies seeking to profit from its resources, the campaign says. In January 2022, an area four times the size of Liverpool would have been lost to these sectors, says the BBC.

As deforestation fuels an environmental and social crisis, the campaign says it also threatens the ability of savers to retire comfortably.

What does the new film and #DeliverTheTruth campaign hope to do?

After exposing the little-known link between UK pensions and deforestation, the campaign’s latest film hopes to highlight the shock and surprise individuals experience when they discover the truth behind their money.

One of the main aims of the new campaign is to encourage company pension schemes to adopt sustainable and environmentally friendly investments, and to be more transparent with citizens.

“We’re calling on people to sign our petition to reduce the deforestation of our pensions and make sure our money isn’t unknowingly helping to destroy the planet,” says Izzy Howden, campaigner and strategic consultant at Make My Money Matter.

“We really want to get people thinking about where their money is going and help them take steps to make sure it’s not being used in a way that doesn’t align with their values,” she adds.

The video hopes to inspire people to take action, so that their money stops contributing to the destruction of the environment.

What can people do now?

“In the short term, our money contradicts our values,” says Curtis. “In the long run, it undermines the very future we are supposed to be saving for.”

Make Money Matter says an employer is unlikely to know the impact of your company pension or how much it’s worth to you.

By ask your employer where your company’s retirement funds are invested, you raise awareness of the impact pensions can have. You can also sign the campaign petition, calling on all pension providers to commit to eliminating deforestation.

According to Make Money Mattergreening your pension is 21 times more effective at reducing your carbon footprint than the combination of going vegetarian, flying and switching energy providers.

The public have this huge weapon in their arsenal when fighting for the planet,” adds Curtis, “the trillions of pounds in their pensions. Now is the time to use it.

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