Everyone knows the tips and tricks to limit or reduce their negative impact on society and our planet: recycle, buy organic or local, buy in season, etc.
The United Nations Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainable development as a mode of consumption that meets our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
But beyond our conscious choices, there are still grey areas in our budget, even in what we think we have the most control over our income and expenses.
Housing and energy expenses
In Switzerland, just finding a place to live can sometimes become a very difficult exercise. So asking questions about the potential greenhouse gas emissions of our future apartment is not necessarily a priority.
However, when you look at the statistics, your home could be one of the grey areas in your budget:
- 62% of buildings in Switzerland were built before the 1980s. Most of them are heated with oil and gas.
- 58% of houses are poorly insulated.
When you add these two factors together, the Swiss building stock is responsible for almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.
Approximately 15.2% of our gross income is transferred each month to the 1st or 2nd pillar. The social objective is commendable: To allow all Swiss workers a minimum pension or a pension in case of an accident.
However, these assets are today managed by pension funds that have very standardized and regulated investment policies. They invest mainly in stocks, bonds, and real estate.
These pension funds manage more than 1,000 billion in assets, which gives them a great influence on the Swiss economy. But unfortunately, sustainability and the impact of investments are not always their first concern. However, some are making efforts to integrate ESG factors into their investment choices.
Several arguments can be cited for their investment decisions: The duty of return, mistrust of impact investments, the regulatory framework, etc.
The final shadowy part of your budget: savings.
About 14.7% of the average Swiss household’s gross income is “sleeping” in a bank account. Well, sleeping is a metaphor. Banks generally encourage savers to put their money to work and are quite inventive when it comes to offering sustainable solutions. But what happens to our money that is not used in these sustainable solutions?
These deposits are used by the bank to fund its activities, financing, and investment. Unfortunately, it is not always clear whether these activities are sustainable… A study published by WWF shows that most of the players in Switzerland are lagging behind on this issue of sustainability.
So what solution(s)?
Investing in sustainability or impact investing, eating organic, local, seasonal, or cycling to the office are good solutions to mitigate our impact and try to make the world a better place.
There are 4 avenues to explore to try to regain control and have a positive impact on society and the planet
But if you consider your overall budget, there may still be some grey areas: savings, retirement plan, or housing. But if you want to go further, the solutions can be complicated to find.
There are 4 avenues to explore to try to regain control and have a positive impact on society and the planet:
1. Take an interest in the annual report published by the pension funds
2. Participate in the general meetings of pension funds.
3. Find out about your bank’s activities to see how your money is being used: some banks and NGOs produce reports on their activities. There are also ESG rating agencies that can provide you with more information.
4. Speak out in the vote
The important thing to remember is that everyone can make a difference.
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