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How are Challenger Banks Tackling Climate Change?

With the COP26 summit taking place this week, tackling climate change is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. In light of this, many members of the fintech industry have announced new measures in support of the summit and its ambitions, pledging to offset carbon emissions or manage their environmental impact. With Challenger Banks often hyper-aware of their sustainability responsibilities, The Fintech Times here takes a look at some of the major challenger banks and their commitments to tackling climate change. 


In a recent blog post, UK based challenger Monzo detailed how the company is working towards net-zero carbon emissions, writing: “We are in a climate crisis. Everyone has a responsibility to act, and take decisions that will support a sustainable, low carbon future.”

They continued, saying that though they are a branchless digital bank with a relatively low carbon footprint, they still contribute to climate change, as well as highlighting that as they grow as a business their environmental impact will grow too.

“Our mission is to make money work for everyone, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that at the very least we do no damage to the environment, by reaching net-zero emissions as a business. We also know that fighting the climate crisis really matters to our customers and our team, and we want to hold ourselves to a standard that we can all be proud of.”

With all this in mind, Monzo have pledged a series of environmental commitments. These include reaching net-zero emissions as a business by the year 2030, measuring and reporting on their carbon footprint in full and publically sharing the results annually, having strong governance for environmental work, with regular reporting to the companies executives and board.

Starling Bank

Starling Bank has always had their eye on their environmental responsibilities, and have recently announced that they have committed to a one third reduction target in its carbon emissions by 2030, as well as offsetting carbon emissions from its own operations and supply chain annually from 2021.

Anne Boden, founder and CEO of Starling Bank, said: “Understanding our carbon emissions enables us to make targeted improvements as we continue to grow. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges that we face globally, and Starling is 100% committed to playing its part in the fight against it, not just in the lead up to 2050, but starting right away. This is urgent and we know that our customers expect no less from us.”

Reducing carbon emissions has always been on Starling’s agenda. Its three UK offices – London, Southampton and Cardiff – run on renewable energy and in 2021 Starling introduced the first UK Mastercard debit card to be made from recycled plastic. Starling’s packaging is 100% recyclable and in 2020-2021 through a partnership with Trillion Trees the bank is planting 50,000 trees.

Starling is also a founding member of the TechZero charter, a climate action group for UK tech companies committed to fighting the climate crisis

Finally, SC Ventures, the innovation arm of Standard Chartered Bank, announced the launch of Shoal, a new digital platform powered by Starling Banking Services. The platform gives UK savers the power to help fund the fight against climate change.

Launching in 2022, Shoal will invest exclusively in green and sustainable projects and will give savers the power to select the types of projects that their money supports.

Boden commented: “At Starling Bank, we’re making banking better. That is why we are pleased to deploy Starling’s Banking as a Service proposition in partnership with Standard Chartered to help their customers live ever more sustainably. Starling will handle the technical and regulatory demands behind the scenes, leaving Shoal to take care of their customers.”


It’s impossible to talk about green challengers without mentioning bunq. They have committed a “green, inclusive and diverse future for anyone on the planet”, and aim to set an example for sustainability in the industry.

The bank has recently announced they its users have planted over 5 million trees as a result of their activity with the bank, offsetting the amount of carbon equivalent to over 1.6 million flights from New York to Paris.

Every time a bunq Easy Green user spends €100 with their bunq card, the bank donates a tree to Eden Reforestation Projects, a nonprofit NGO that works in developing countries to rebuild natural landscapes destroyed by deforestation. Trees planted through this project capture around 308kg of carbon throughout their estimated 25-year growth life, meaning that if bunq users spend €1000 a month they can become CO2 free in less than 2 years.

Ali Niknam, founder and CEO of bunq: “Sustainability is a virtue bunq’s users value so highly. Together, we are doing everything possible to redefine what banking is and what it can do for our planet. We hope today’s announcements show the impressive steps bunq has taken so far.”

bunq has also previously announced that it will actively focus on reducing its annual emissions of 8,100 tons of CO2, a fraction of the emissions footprint of the average financial institution. In this way, bunq is at the forefront of the green revolution, where technology is increasingly being used to address climate change and accelerate the transition to clean energy.


  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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