Brits are unwittingly pouring their savings into oil and tobacco companies

Last year, hundreds of thousands of people—from students to retirees—joined immense demonstrations in the UK, calling for the country to cut its carbon emissions to battle the threat of climate change. Their sheer numbers showed a swelling commitment to the cause.

Yet, if financial research is any indication, many of them are missing a critical opportunity to shape the future they want. Most employed people in Britain are automatically placed in a pension plan, and they can usually control where that money goes. Research shows that the vast majority of that investment goes into a default fund, which is likely piping capital into mining and energy companies that people concerned about climate change would probably rather avoid.

“People might be making all these choices in the daily lives and might be recycling and having shorter showers and flying less, but, actually, if they were to make the right choices in their pension plan they can make a much bigger impact on all these areas that they care about,” said Maria Nazarova-Doyle, head of pension investments at Scottish Widows.

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